Break out the marshmallows, friends: Ego depletion is due to change sign!

In a paper amusingly titled, “Ego depletion may disappear by 2020,” Miguel Vadillo (link from Kevin Lewis) writes:

Ego depletion has been successfully replicated in hundreds of studies. Yet the most recent large-scale Registered Replication Reports (RRR), comprising thousands of participants, have yielded disappointingly small effects, sometimes even failing to reach statistical significance. Although these results may seem surprising, in the present article I suggest that they are perfectly consistent with a long-term decline in the size of the depletion effects that can be traced back to at least 10 years ago, well before any of the RRR on ego depletion were conceived. The decline seems to be at least partly due to a parallel trend toward publishing better and less biased research.

But I think Vadillo is totally missing the big story, which is that if you take this trend seriously—and you certainly should—then ego depletion is not just disappearing. It’s changing sign. By 2025 or so, the sign of ego depletion should be clearly negative.

And by around the turn of the next century, ego depletion will be the largest effect known to psychology. Step aside, Stroop, and make room for the new boss on the block.