Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 334–347 | Cite as

The ego depletion effect on undergraduate university students: A systematic review

  • Keith Gissubel
  • Ana Beiramar
  • Teresa Freire
Original Paper


For most, the transition from high school to university marks the simultaneous transition from adolescence into emerging adulthood. Many studies have discussed the degradation of health throughout this time period and identified the increased chance of this cohort engaging in risky or unhealthy behavior. Ego depletion may provide a useful tool for beginning the exploration of this transition and its challenges. This systematic review intends to identify the studies over the last 5 years that have focused on the effect of ego depletion on cognitive and emotional variables with university students. The systematic search resulted in 48 studies from which to draw data and revealed that undergraduate university students are susceptible to the ego depletion effect (92% significant), and that it pervades across wide variety of cognitive and emotional variables such as self-control, prospective memory, and anxiety. These studies could yield suggestions for future planning of advisor–student relationships, peer-to-peer assistance programs, and many other useful avenues for easing the early years of university.


University students Ego depletion Systematic review Strength model of self-regulation Development 



This study was conducted at Psychology Research Centre (UID/PSI/01662/2013), University of MInho, and supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education through national funds and co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE2020 under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007653).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Psychology, School of PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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