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Self-Regulation, Ego Depletion, and Motivation



Motivation is underappreciated in self-regulation theories (as is true in social personality psychology at large). This paper reviews the role of motivation in the context of the strength, or limited-resource, model of self-control in several domains. Sacrificing one desire in order to pursue another is more difficult when the incipient response is strongly motivated, a notion that highlights the struggle between urges and restraints. A reduction in ego resources can be temporarily overcome by strong motivation – nevertheless, ego depletion is not solely a loss of motivation: Recent experiments indicate that regulatory resources are rooted in physical energy stores. Motivational conflicts, especially the clash between selfish motives and behaviors that promote social acceptance, set the stage for the necessity of self-regulation and the circumstances in which ego depletion is most likely.