Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Resource Depletion Impacts Perceptions of Social Risk and Social Engagement




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Recent work shows that when self-regulatory resources are depleted, people with interdependent self-construals (chronic or primed) maintain social engagement with close others but disengage when interacting with strangers (Dean & Bauer, 2011). We hypothesized this latter effect emerges because depletion exacerbates perceptions of social risks (e.g., social disharmony) for interdependents, people especially sensitive to these cues. Using conventional methods, self-construals were primed and resource depletion manipulated. Participants indicated their concerns and desires for an upcoming interaction with strangers, and their choice of engaging in social and nonsocial situations that were diagnostic (i.e., offering acceptance/rejection or success/failure feedback, respectively) or nondiagnostic. As predicted, interdependents (vs. independents) expressed more concern about making a good impression and desired more acceptance from strangers when depleted (vs. not). Similarly, depletion prompted interdependents to avoid social, but not nonsocial, diagnostic situations. As such, socially avoidant behavior appears to, ironically, preserve social harmony.

Conference Name

Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Conference

Conference Location

San Diego, California

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