The effect of ego depletion on challenge and threat evaluations during a potentially stressful public speaking task

Jessica O'Brien, John Parker, Lee Moore, Simon Fryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: It has been well established that challenge and threat evaluations affect the performance of potentially stressful tasks, however, the factors that influence these evaluations have rarely been examined. Objective: This study examined the effects of ego depletion on challenge and threat evaluations during a public speaking task. Method: 262 participants (150 males, 112 females; Mage = 20.5, SD = 4.3) were randomly assigned to either an ego depletion or control group. Participants then completed self-report measures of trait self-control. The ego depletion group performed a written transcription task requiring self-control, while the control group transcribed the text normally. Before the public speaking task, participant’s challenge and threat evaluations and subjective ratings of performance were assessed via self-report items. Results: The results of independent t-tests supported the effectiveness of the self-control manipulation. There were no significant differences between the ego depletion and control groups in terms of challenge and threat evaluations or subjective performance. Additional correlation analyses revealed that trait measures of self-control were significantly and negatively related to challenge and threat evaluations and subjective performance. Conclusion: Findings suggest that ego depletion might not influence appraisals of potentially stressful tasks, and thus add to recent evidence questioning the ego-depletion phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnxiety Stress and Coping
Publication statusAcceptance date - 12 Aug 2020

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