Why Do Choices Tax Self-Regulatory Resources? Three Tests of Candidates to Explain Decision Fatigue

Kathleen D. Vohs, University of Minnesota, USA
Noelle Nelson , University of Minnesota, USA
Catherine Rawn , University of British Columbia, Canada
Little research addresses why choice depletes self-regulatory resources. Three studies tested three candidates that may explain why choice is taxing. Experiment 1 found that making choices for the self was more depleting than making choices for another. Experiment 2 found that enjoyable choices were less depleting than unenjoyable choices— but only after few choices. After many choices, participants were depleted regardless of whether they enjoyed making choices. In experiment 3, participants deliberated, implemented pre-selected options, or engaged in full choice. The full choice process (i.e., deliberate and implement) depleted participants most; the other two conditions showed better, and equivalent, self-regulation.
[ to cite ]:
Kathleen D. Vohs, Noelle Nelson , and Catherine Rawn (2009) ,"Why Do Choices Tax Self-Regulatory Resources? Three Tests of Candidates to Explain Decision Fatigue", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 172-176.