Effects of ego depletion on moral judgement


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Extant literature has reported conflicting findings regarding moral preferences while ego depleted. Some suggested that when self-regulatory resources are exhausted, people are more preferential toward conservatism (Eidelman, Crandall, Goodman, & Blanchar, 2012) or moral foundations related to conservatism (Van Berkel, Crandall, Eidelman, & Blanchar, 2015). Others suggested that a more left-leaning moral preference is natural when participants are ego depleted (Wright & Baril, 2011). To elucidate these contradictory findings, the present study compared depleted and non-depleted participant’s scores on Moral Foundation Vignettes (MFVs; Clifford, Iyengar, Cabeza, & Sinnott-Armstrong, 2015). Additionally, researchers have struggled to find a computerized depletion task with a strong effect size. The present study attempted to offer a solution to this problem in the form of an e-crossing procedure based on Haggar and colleagues’ (2016) replication report yet modified according to Baumeister and Vohs’ (2016) recommendation to include an initial, habit-forming phase. Both the sequential task paradigm and performance over time showed no evidence of an ego depletion effect. Surprisingly, moral judgements were uncorrelated with political orientation. Reliable depletion tasks must be developed before correlates with moral judgement can be studied.



Ego depletion, Self-regulation, Moral foundations, Moral vignettes, E-crossing procedure