Strong Effort Manipulations Reduce Response Caution: A Preregistered Reinvention of the Ego-Depletion Paradigm

Hause Lin (Lead / Corresponding author), Blair Saunders, Malte Friese, Nathan J. Evans, Michael Inzlicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


People feel tired or depleted after exerting mental effort. But even preregistered studies often fail to find effects of exerting effort on behavioral performance in the laboratory or elucidate the underlying psychology. We tested a new paradigm in four preregistered within-subjects studies ( N = 686). An initial high-demand task reliably elicited very strong effort phenomenology compared with a low-demand task. Afterward, participants completed a Stroop task. We used drift-diffusion modeling to obtain the boundary (response caution) and drift-rate (information-processing speed) parameters. Bayesian analyses indicated that the high-demand manipulation reduced boundary but not drift rate. Increased effort sensations further predicted reduced boundary. However, our demand manipulation did not affect subsequent inhibition, as assessed with traditional Stroop behavioral measures and additional diffusion-model analyses for conflict tasks. Thus, effort exertion reduced response caution rather than inhibitory control, suggesting that after exerting effort, people disengage and become uninterested in exerting further effort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-547
Number of pages17
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
Early online date21 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • fatigue
  • ego depletion
  • self-control
  • drift diffusion model
  • Bayesian analysis
  • preregistered
  • drift-diffusion model
  • open materials
  • open data

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Strong Effort Manipulations Reduce Response Caution: A Preregistered Reinvention of the Ego-Depletion Paradigm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Profiles

    No photo of Blair Saunders

    Saunders, Blair

    Person: Academic

    Cite this