Fatigue Determination of Inhibitory Strength and Control: A Babe in a Bath

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Abstract

This article addresses recent controversy surrounding the limited resource model of self-control developed by Baumeister and colleagues. It does so focusing on certain concerns that have been raised and drawing from an emerging analysis of fatigue influence on behavioral restraint that is guiding current research in our laboratory. The concerns pertain to elements of the relevant research literature that present an uncertain fit with one of the model’s key propositions, regarding performance resource depletion—that is, fatigue—influence on inhibitory strength and control. They have led some investigators to question the proposition, suggesting that related control findings might have been generated by a mechanism or set of mechanisms alternative to fatigue. Our emerging analysis of fatigue influence goes against this grain. It suggests that the fatigue proposition remains viable but could benefit from informed elaboration regarding the role fatigue plays in determining how intensively people resist unwanted behavioral urges. In light of the analysis, the literature elements of concern are not only understandable, but to be expected.

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