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Self-Regulatory Resources

Vohs (2006) argues that the RIM’s reflective system is, in fact, powered by selfregulatory resources (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998). This account is based on the similarity between the idea of such resources and the cognitive resources discussed in relation to the RIM. Vohs & Faber, (2007) argue that impulsive spending, a phenomenon expected to occur under circumstances that inhibit reflective processing, does indeed occur more often when participants are depleted of self-regulatory resources. A structurally similar argument is made with respect to overeating among dieters (Vohs & Heatherton 2000). Further evidence for this integration of theories comes from research showing that effortful selfregulation has a detrimental effect on subsequent reasoning capabilities (Schmeichel, Vohs, & Baumeister, 2003). The bidirectionality of this effect, that is, a negative effect that prior reflective decision-making exerts on subsequent self-regulation, is shown in a laboratory paradigm encompassing many simple decisions followed by a self-regulatory exercise. The effect’s bidirectionality also surfaces in a field study in which shoppers who reported having made effortful decisions previously solved fewer math problems than those who had engaged in fewer decisions during their shopping trip (Vohs et al., 2008) . Although this evidence hints at a connection between self-regulatory and reflective cognitive resources, these studies do not show a direct link between the two. Other research shows that dietary standards and explicit target attitudes predict behavior only when self-regulatory resources are available; when it is not, implicit attitudes are better predictors (Friese, Hofmann, & Wanke, 2008; Hofmann, Rauch, & Gawronski, 2007). The fact that impulsive and reflective predictors diverge depending on the availability of self-regulatory resources underlines the conceptualization of self-regulation as a conflict between impulsive and reflective behavioral activation. Together with the evidence presented by Vohs (2006), these findings permit the conclusion that research on resource- based self-regulation can be integrated into the RIM. It remains to be seen whether self-regulatory resources are equivalent to working memory resources or whether they constitute their own construct.

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