Understanding Self-Regulation Failure: A Motivated Effort-Allocation Account

Daniel C Molden*, C. M. Hui, A. A. Scholer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


Although enormously beneficial, self-regulation often proves to be enormously difficult. The typical explanation for such difficulty has been that people's capacity for self-regulation is limited and depletes with use, hindering sustained regulation. However, recent findings challenge this capacity view, suggesting instead that people's shifting experiences with and motivations for continued self-regulation better explain why regulation so frequently fails. This chapter integrates such findings, and several emerging theoretical perspectives developed to explain them, into an integrated model of self-regulation based on processes of motivated effort allocation. The model incorporates three main components: (1) assessments of motives to engage in self-regulation; (2) allocations of effort and attention based on these motives; and (3) monitoring of the consequences of this allocation, which then triggers a reassessment of motives and begins the cycle anew. After presenting the details of the model, the chapter reviews its implications for capacity views of self-regulation and future research on improving regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSelf-Regulation and Ego Control
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9780128018781
ISBN (Print)9780128018507
StatePublished - Aug 23 2016


  • Ego depletion
  • Fatigue
  • Self-control
  • Self-regulation capacity
  • The strength model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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