Attention control, memory updating, and emotion regulation temporarily reduce the capacity for executive control.
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This research tested the hypothesis that initial efforts at executive control temporarily undermine subsequent efforts at executive control. Four experiments revealed that controlling the focus of visual attention (Experiment 1), inhibiting predominant writing tendencies (Experiment 2), taking a working memory test (Experiment 3), or exaggerating emotional expressions (Experiment 4) undermined performance on subsequent tests of working memory span, reverse digit span, and response inhibition, respectively. The results supported a limited resource model of executive control and cast doubt on competing accounts based on mood, motivation, or task difficulty. Prior efforts at executive control are a significant contextual determinant of the operation of executive processes.
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