ego depletion

Replication crisis

In 2016, a large, multi-lab (k = 23, N = 2141) replication trial was undertaken. It failed to demonstrate any effect of ego depletion (Hagger et al., 2016). Baumeister, the originator of the concept of ego depletion, objected to the results, arguing that the task used was not suited to demonstrating ego depletion (Baumeister & Vohs, 2016). His objections seem to be valid. Baumeister announced that he would conduct another large-scale replication trial, with a test protocol that more closely matched those used in ordinary studies of ego depletion, but (to my knowledge) he has not yet done so, though others have undertaken this task.

A large (k=12, N = 1775) study published in 2021 successfully replicated a study showing an effect from ego depletion (Dang et al., 2021).

Another large (k=36, N = 3531) study found no ego depletion effect with the pre-registered analyses (Vohs et al., 2021).

Preventing ego depletion

Ahrens suggests that ego depletion can be reduced, in the context of knowledge work, by using a note-taking system (Luhmann's zettelkasten, in this case) that prescribes how notes should be taken, which is the same in every case (Ahrens, 2017, 9.6).


A 2011 study comparing younger participants (<25 years) to older (40-65 years) found that the younger group showed ego depletion effects, but the older did not (Dahm et al., 2011).


Ahrens, S. (2017). How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. CreateSpace.
Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2016). Misguided Effort With Elusive Implications. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(4), 574–575.
Dahm, T., Neshat-Doost, H. T., Golden, A.-M., Horn, E., Hagger, M., & Dalgleish, T. (2011). Age Shall Not Weary Us: Deleterious Effects of Self-Regulation Depletion Are Specific to Younger Adults. PLoS ONE, 6(10), e26351.
Dang, J., Barker, P., Baumert, A., Bentvelzen, M., Berkman, E., Buchholz, N., Buczny, J., Chen, Z., De Cristofaro, V., de Vries, L., Dewitte, S., Giacomantonio, M., Gong, R., Homan, M., Imhoff, R., Ismail, I., Jia, L., Kubiak, T., Lange, F., … Zinkernagel, A. (2021). A Multilab Replication of the Ego Depletion Effect. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(1), 14–24.
Hagger, M. S., Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Alberts, H., Anggono, C. O., Batailler, C., Birt, A. R., Brand, R., Brandt, M. J., Brewer, G., Bruyneel, S., Calvillo, D. P., Campbell, W. K., Cannon, P. R., Carlucci, M., Carruth, N. P., Cheung, T., Crowell, A., De Ridder, D. T. D., Dewitte, S., … Zwienenberg, M. (2016). A Multilab Preregistered Replication of the Ego-Depletion Effect. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(4), 546–573.
Vohs, K., Schmeichel, B., Lohmann, S., Gronau, Q. F., Finley, A. J., Others, M., Wagenmakers, E.-J., & AlbarracΓ­n, D. (2021). A Multi-Site Preregistered Paradigmatic Test of the Ego Depletion Effect. PsyArXiv.
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