The Strength Model of Self-Control
The exertion of self-control appears to depend on a limited resource. Acts of self-
control cause short-term impairments in subsequent self-control, even on unrelated
tasks. Research has supported the strength model in the domains of eating,
drinking, spending, sexuality, intelligent thought, making choices and interpersonal
Self-control refers to the capacity for altering one’s own responses, especially to
bring them into line with standards such as ideals, values, morals, and social
expectations, and to support the pursuit of long-term goals.
Self-control enables a person to restrain or override one response, thereby making a
different response possible.
Inadequate self-control has been linked to behavioural and impulse-control
problems, including overeating, alcohol and drug abuse and smoking. It may also be
linked to emotional problems, school underachievement, relationship problems, and
The researchers observed that self-control appeared vulnerable to deterioration
over time from repeated exertions, resembling a muscle that gets tired. The
implication is that effortful self-regulation depends on a limited resource that
becomes depleted by an acts of self-control, causing subsequent performance even
on other self-control tasks to become worse.
Studies point toward the conclusion that a first self-control task consumes and
depletes some kind of psychological resource that is therefore less available to help
performance on a second self-control task.
Ego depletion: the state of diminished resources following exertion of self-control.
Neither self-control nor measured self-efficacy have any discernable impact on the
ego depletion patterns.
Elaborating the Strength Model
Regular exertions of self-control can improve willpower strength. These
improvements typically take the form of resistance to depletion, in the sense that
performance at self-control tasks deteriorates at a slower rate. Daily exercises in
self-control gradually produce improvements in self-contro