Regulating Risk or Risking Regulation? Construal Levels and Depletion Effects in the Processing of Health Messages
The depletion effect occurs when individuals who exert self‐control in a previous task (i.e., depleted individuals) exhibit less self‐control on a subsequent task relative to individuals who did not previously exert self‐control. This article presents two experiments that implicate construal levels to understand the processes underlying depletion effects in the context of consumer health. At low‐level construals, individuals rely on resource accessibility cues (e.g., feelings of tiredness) to determine self‐control. Hence, they exert less self‐control only when they assess themselves as depleted, manifesting the depletion effect. High‐level construals reduce the resource focus and enhance a goal focus, which diminishes and even reverses the depletion effect.
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