Exercising self-control increases approach motivation. Academic Article uri icon


  • The present research tested the hypothesis that exercising self-control causes an increase in approach motivation. Study 1 found that exercising (vs. not exercising) self-control increases self-reported approach motivation. Study 2a identified a behavior--betting on low-stakes gambles--that is correlated with approach motivation but is relatively uncorrelated with self-control, and Study 2b observed that exercising self-control temporarily increases this behavior. Last, Study 3 found that exercising self-control facilitates the perception of a reward-relevant symbol (i.e., a dollar sign) but not a reward-irrelevant symbol (i.e., a percent sign). Altogether, these results support the hypothesis that exercising self-control temporarily increases approach motivation. Failures of self-control that follow from prior efforts at self-control (i.e., ego depletion) may be explained in part by increased approach motivation.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Schmeichel, B. J., Harmon-Jones, C., & Harmon-Jones, E

citation count

  • 160

complete list of authors

  • Schmeichel, Brandon J||Harmon-Jones, Cindy||Harmon-Jones, Eddie

publication date

  • July 2010