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


Englert, C., Havik, L., Zhang, Q., R. D. Oudejans, R. (2018). Can you go the extra mile? The effect of ego depletion on endurance performance. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 49(6), 505-520. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2018.49.505


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