Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Shauna Joye

Committee Member 1

Janie Wilson

Committee Member 2

Jeff Klibert


Everyday activities require the use of self-control resources to regulate behaviors. Ego depletion is the idea that the use of self-control resources on one task results in reduced self-control resources for subsequent tasks. The current study aims to examine ego depletion as a result of a simulated workplace task, design a gratitude recovery technique for workplace ego depletion, and observe child punishment as a potential outcome of workplace ego depletion. A dual-task procedure in which participants completed a complex logic assessment while also listening to a background narrative mimicked workplace environments. Gratitude recovery consisted of recalling people, items, or events, for which participants were grateful. Child punishment was assessed by asking participants to view a video of a child misbehaving and then assign a punishment. Results showed workplace environments that involve doing multiple unrelated tasks can induce ego depletion. The gratitude recovery technique in the current study did not prove more useful than a control group, and participants who experienced gratitude recovery actually punished children more harshly than those in the control condition. Gratitude recovery techniques that involve savoring may prove more useful. Other alternate explanations such as priming, may help to explain child punishment outcomes.