Is there a downside to good self-control?

Roy F. Baumeister, Jessica L. Alquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Most discussions of self-control have focused on its benefits rather than its costs. The most important cost appears to be the depletion of limited self-control resources. Acts of self-control both consume and require self-control resources, and, until these resources can be replenished, people's ability to perform many adaptive behaviors is compromised. These impairments affect not only self-control but also intelligent thought, effective decision making, and initiative. The limited resource itself presents further potential costs, insofar as the person must manage the limited resource (e.g., conserving for future demands), and managing the resource itself is presumably another demand for self-regulation and hence a drain on the limited resource. Trait self-control, in contrast, appears to have few or no downsides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-130
Number of pages16
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Ego depletion
  • Self
  • Self-control
  • Self-regulation
  • Tradeoff


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