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Considerable research demonstrates that the depletion of self-regulatory resources impairs performance on subsequent tasks that demand these resources. The current research sought to assess the impact of perceived resource depletion on subsequent task performance at both high and low levels of actual depletion. The authors manipulated perceived resource depletion by having participants 1st complete a depleting or nondepleting task before being presented with feedback that did or did not provide a situational attribution for their internal state. Participants then persisted at a problem-solving task (Experiments 1–2), completed an attention-regulation task (Experiment 3), or responded to a persuasive message (Experiment 4). The findings consistently demonstrated that individuals who perceived themselves as less (vs. more) depleted, whether high or low in actual depletion, were more successful at subsequent self-regulation. Thus, perceived regulatory depletion can impact subsequent task performance—and this impact can be independent of one’s actual state of depletion.

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