Being of two minds: Switching mindsets exhausts self-regulatory resources

Ryan Hamilton, Kathleen D. Vohs, Anne Laure Sellier, Tom Meyvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The human psyche is equipped with the capacity to solve problems using different mental states or mindsets. Different mindsets can lead to different judgment and decision making styles, each associated with its own perspective and biases. To change perspective, people can, and often do, switch mindsets. We argue, however, that mindset switching can be costly for subsequent decisions. We propose that mindset switching is an executive function that relies on the same psychological resource that governs other acts of executive functioning, including self-regulation. This implies that there are psychic costs to switching mindsets that are borne out in depleted executive resources. One implication of this framework is that switching mindsets should render people more likely to fail at subsequent self-regulation than they would if maintaining a consistent mindset. The findings from experiments that manipulated mindset switching in five domains support this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jannine Lasaleta, Steven Oravecz, Andrew Kaikati, and Alison Boyce for their data collection assistance. This research was supported in part by University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant and Presidential Professorship funds.


  • Executive functioning
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Mindsets
  • Resource depletion
  • Self-control
  • Self-regulation


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