Ego depletion, an influential social psychology theory that has been applied in auditing research, is currently in crisis following unsuccessful attempts to replicate the phenomenon. I summarize the questions surrounding ego depletion as a phenomenon and the strength model of self-control as its theoretical explanation. Existing evidence suggests that depletion is a real phenomenon but that its effect is likely overstated in prior literature. However, it seems that the strength model is not the best theoretical explanation for depletion. To provide a path forward to continue investigating this phenomenon, I describe four alternative theories from prior literature. Highlighting motivation as a common thread in these theories, I then propose a new theory that views ego depletion as transient cognitive fatigue. Finally, I discuss opportunities for future research in auditing, best practices for the design of these studies, and meta-lessons that accounting researchers can take from crises in psychology research.

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