Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Michael E. McCullough

Second Committee Member

Charles S. Carver

Third Committee Member

Amishi P. Jha

Fourth Committee Member

Kiara R. Timpano

Fifth Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn


Few models of self-control have generated as much scientific interest as the limited strength model. The basic pattern of results predicted by this model is that acts of self-control that follow previous acts of self-control will be less likely to succeed (i.e., the so-called depletion effect). Based on results from a recent meta-analysis, researchers have concluded that the depletion effect is robust across experimental contexts and consistently medium in magnitude. Here, I detail three reasons to think that these estimates are inflated. To correct these estimates, I updated the earlier meta-analytic dataset and applied a set of statistical analyses to assess and correct for small-study effects, such as publication bias. Generally, strong signals of publication bias were found, as well as other possible small-study effects. When these influences were corrected for, there was little evidence of an effect that was distinguishable from zero. I discuss my results in terms of support for the depletion effect as proposed in the limited strength model, and I conclude that, until greater certainty about the existence of the depletion effect can be established, circumspection about the existence of this phenomenon is warranted.


Self-control; Ego Depletion; Limited Resources; Self-regulation; Meta-analysis; Publication Bias