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Weakening self-control biases the emotional evaluation of appetitive cues
Wiesner, C. D., Lindner, C.

Weakening self-control biases the emotional evaluation of appetitive cues

PLoS One, 12(e0170245). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170245, Open Access

Exerting self-control in a first task weakens self-control in a second completely unrelated task (ego-depletion). It has been proposed that ego-depletion increases approach motiva- tion which would amplify positive emotions to appetitive cues. Here we investigated the effect of the depletion of cognitive self-control on the subsequent emotional evaluation of appetitive cues. Participants of the depletion group copied a text omitting frequent letters and thereby exerting self-control to inhibit automated writing habits. Participants of the con- trol group just copied the text. In a subsequent task participants had to rate valence and arousal of their responses to neutral vs. positive pictures of humans, animals, food, or scen- eries. Ego-depletion caused more positive valence ratings of neutral pictures and lower arousal ratings of positive pictures. The findings do not support the notion that ego-depletion increases approach motivation in general. Rather they suggest that—without a specific motivational context—depletion of cognitive self-control differentially alters the immediate emotional evaluation of appetitive cues.