Can you go the extra mile? The effect of ego depletion on endurance performance

Chris Englert */**, Larissa Havik ***, Qian Zhang **** and RaƓul R. D. Oudejans ***/*****

(*) Institute of Educational Science, Department of Educational Psychology University of Bern, Switzerland
(**) Institute for Sport Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
(***) Department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(****) Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, e Florida State Tallahassee, USA
(*****) Faculty of Sports and Nutrition, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We tested the assumption, that individuals (N = 13 participants) would per- form worse in a cycling endurance task and would invest less effort under ego deple- tion than with temporarily available self-control strength. Participants’ self-control strength was experimentally manipulated (non-depletion vs ego depletion, order counterbalanced) in a within-subjects design (two points of measurement, 48 hours apart) before participants performed a 6 km time trial on an indoor track. Non- parametric bootstrapping revealed that ego depletion had the most obvious effect on power output and cycling times per lap at the beginning of the time-trial. The effect of ego depletion on revolutions per minute and heart rate was large in the early parts of the time-trial, faded somewhat during the middle, while it increased again towards the end of the time-trial. The current study suggests that it might be bene- ficial to develop strategies which help to replenish depleted self-control strength.

Keywords: Cycling, Ego depletion, Endurance, Health, Self-control, Self-regulation