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Ego Depletion

Ego Depletion


Ego depletion is our tendency to make easy, impulsive, selfish choices and superficial judgements when our System 2 is exhausted. This occurs when people have to show self-control (e.g. holding back an emotional response) and/or are engaged in cognitive effort (e.g. mental maths or dealing with complex problems).

Psychologists have discovered that all forms of voluntary effort, whether cognitive, emotional, or physical, rely on a shared pool of mental energy. Our nervous system uses more glucose that most other parts of the body and so cognitively demanding activity quickly drain our reserves of glucose. People are also more prone to intuitive errors when ego depleted.

Ego Depletion & Impact on Decision Making

Image of chart showing impact of ego depletion on decision making


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