Ego Depletion

Definition:

Ego depletion is our tendency to make easy, impulsive, selfish choices and superficial judgements when our System 2 is exhausted. This occurs when people have to show self-control (e.g. holding back an emotional response) and/or are engaged in cognitive effort (e.g. mental maths or dealing with complex problems).

Psychologists have discovered that all forms of voluntary effort, whether cognitive, emotional, or physical, rely on a shared pool of mental energy. Our nervous system uses more glucose that most other parts of the body and so cognitively demanding activity quickly drain our reserves of glucose. People are also more prone to intuitive errors when ego depleted.

Ego Depletion & Impact on Decision Making

Image of chart showing impact of ego depletion on decision making

Implications:

Avoid using images for offer or bonus codes so that users don’t have to remember them, but can instead copy and paste.

Put cost savings or discounts in simple terms and if possible do the calculation for the user.

Keep forms simple and short. If possible display one question at a time so that users don’t become distracted by other information you are requesting.

Use inline field validation in forms to provide instant feedback and error handling to reduce cognitive load.

Resources:

Conversion marketing – Glossary of Conversion Marketing.

Cognitive load – Minimising cognitive load to improve conversions.

Over 300 tools reviewed – Digital Marketing Toolbox.

A/B testing software – Which A/B testing tools should you choose?

Types of A/B tests – How to optimise your website’s performance using A/B testing.