MAYBE YOU DON’T HAVE A FIXED AMOUNT OF WILLPOWER. I posted here on the theory that at any one time the brain only has a fixed amount of willpower. Now this theory, which was supported by hundreds of psychological experiments over the past 20 years, has joined the other studies which have failed in replication experiments.

This article in Slate by Daniel Engbar describes some of the experiments which supported the principle that “Willpower draws down mental energy—it’s a muscle that can be exercised to exhaustion.” The drawing down of mental energy is referred to as “ego depletion”.

In 2014, the Association for Psychological Science created a “Registered Replication Report”—a planned-out set of experiments, conducted by two dozen different labs, and testing more than 2000 subjects. Engber says: “…the study found exactly nothing. A zero-effect for ego depletion: No sign that the human will works as it’s been described, or that these hundreds of studies amount to very much at all.”

A quote from Engbar indicates the effect on psychologists in the field: “…it’s not much fun for the people whose life’s work has been called into question….

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