Ego depletion in visual perception: Ego-depleted viewers experience less ambiguous figure reversal

  • Marina C. Wimmer
  • Steven Stirk
  • Peter J. B. Hancock
Brief Report


This study examined the effects of ego depletion on ambiguous figure perception. Adults (N = 315) received an ego depletion task and were subsequently tested on their inhibitory control abilities that were indexed by the Stroop task (Experiment 1) and their ability to perceive both interpretations of ambiguous figures that was indexed by reversal (Experiment 2). Ego depletion had a very small effect on reducing inhibitory control (Cohen’s d = .15) (Experiment 1). Ego-depleted participants had a tendency to take longer to respond in Stroop trials. In Experiment 2, ego depletion had small to medium effects on the experience of reversal. Ego-depleted viewers tended to take longer to reverse ambiguous figures (duration to first reversal) when naïve of the ambiguity and experienced less reversal both when naïve and informed of the ambiguity. Together, findings suggest that ego depletion has small effects on inhibitory control and small to medium effects on bottom-up and top-down perceptual processes. The depletion of cognitive resources can reduce our visual perceptual experience.


Ambiguous figures Reversal Bottom-up processes Top-down processes Ego depletion 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina C. Wimmer
    • 1
  • Steven Stirk
    • 1
  • Peter J. B. Hancock
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Psychology, Cognition InstituteUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Psychology, Faculty of Natural SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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