Depleted egos and affirmed selves: The two faces of customization

Hyunjin Kang, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Customization is generally considered a desirable attribute of media technologies, but it also entails the active exercise of choice by the user. Research has shown that constantly making personal choices results in depletion of inner resources required for self-control - a phenomenon known as "ego depletion." Therefore, we hypothesize a negative effect of customization on self control. But, in doing so, we also consider the possibility that this effect could be mitigated by the affordance of self-expression via customization. So, although making numerous choices could lead to ego-depletion, identity expression could lead to self-affirmation, which is known to counter ego-depletion. The current study explores these two competing effects of customization on one's inner resources, by way of a three-condition, between-subjects experiment (N = 54), in which one group of participants was instructed to customize their iGoogle portal in a manner that would bolster their self-affirmation and another in a manner that would minimize it, with the third condition serving as a browsing-only control. The results indicate that self-affirmation may compensate for ego depletion, with theoretical implications for the psychology of customization technology and practical implications for design of customization options in media interfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2273-2280
Number of pages8
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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