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The Benefits of Behaving Badly on Occasion: Successful Regulation by Planned Hedonic Deviations

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Abstract

This research tests the idea that goal-pursuit that requires extended inhibition of desires, such as weight loss and financial saving, can benefit from including planned hedonic deviations in the goal-striving plan. Two controlled experiments (simulated and real dieting) demonstrate that including planned goal deviations during extended goal striving, compared with following a straight and rigid goal striving process, (1) helps regain self-regulatory resources, (2) helps maintain consumers’ motivation to pursue with regulatory tasks, and (3) has a positive impact on affect experienced, which all contribute to facilitate long-term goal- adherence. A third study, conducted with current goal-strivers provides further evidence of the benefits of planned hedonic deviations for goal pursuit across a variety of goals. This reveals that it may be beneficial for long-term goal-success to occasionally be bad, as long it is planned.

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... Hedonic consumption can be undertaken without coming at a cost to goal pursuits as it may be irrelevant to the pertinent goals of the individual (Vosgerau et al., 2020) or even provide benefit to a pertinent goal on a strategic level (e.g., Woolley and Fishbach, study 4;Jia et al., 2019a) and on a tactical level (e.g., Tice et al., 2007). 3 Specifically in the goal pursuit or self-control context, hedonic consumption has shown to provide affective and motivational benefits to subsequent goal pursuit under no stress conditions (Tice et al., 2007;Coelho do Vale et al., 2016;Prinsen et al., 2018;Jia et al., 2019a) and under stressful conditions (Mead et al., 2016). Extending this research, we investigated the immediate cognitive effects of hedonic consumption under moderately stressful conditions. ...
... In sum, the present research supports the notion that hedonic consumption may not always be a vice (Kopetz et al., 2018;Jia et al., 2019b;e.g., Ghoniem and Hofmann, 2021), and that stress is not always "bad" (Crum et al., 2020), rather, we specify that under no stress conditions hedonic consumption can be maladaptive, while under moderate stress it may not. Although we have not explicitly measured the effects on long-term selfregulation in our study, other studies have suggested that strategic hedonic consumption can motivate, reward and balance selfcontrol (Coelho do Vale et al., 2016;Mead et al., 2016;Woolley and Fishbach, 2016;Prinsen et al., 2018;Jia et al., 2019a,b). This research indicates that strategic hedonic consumption can help sustain long-term self-regulation and we have demonstrated a possible underlying mechanism that may facilitate this. ...
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Hedonic consumption is pleasant but can interfere with the capacity to self-regulate. In stressful moments, when self-regulation is arguably still important, individuals often indulge in hedonic consumption. In two experiments, we investigate whether hedonic consumption negatively affects self-regulation under moderately stressful conditions and whether selecting hedonic consumption under moderately stressful conditions is driven by high or low self-control. In both studies, participants were randomly exposed to a mental arithmetic task that was either completed under time pressure with performance feedback (moderate stress) or without time pressure and without feedback (no stress). Experiment 1 assigned participants to a hedonic (vs. neutral) consumption task and then measured impulse control via a color-word Stroop task. Experiment 2 measured self-control as a second independent variable and recorded hedonic (vs. neutral) consumption. The results show that moderate stress buffered the negative effect that hedonic consumption has on self-regulation under no stress conditions and that high rather than low self-control predicts hedonic over neutral consumption under stress. These findings indicate that hedonic consumption in response to moderate stress may be a strategic choice to reap the pleasure benefit of hedonic consumption while the costs to self-regulation are low.
... The authors argued that the use of dietary supplements may create an illusory sense of invulnerability that disinhibits unhealthy behaviours. Other researchers have argued that there can be instances in which licensing may actually promote successful goal striving (Coelho do Vale, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2016;Prinsen, Dohle, Evers, de Ridder, & Hofmann, 2017). Specifically, for long-term diet success, allowing oneself an occasional diet violation after a period of restrained eating may actually lead to better diet outcomes compared to trying to completely control one's eating behaviour (Coelho do Vale et al., 2016). ...
... Other researchers have argued that there can be instances in which licensing may actually promote successful goal striving (Coelho do Vale, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2016;Prinsen, Dohle, Evers, de Ridder, & Hofmann, 2017). Specifically, for long-term diet success, allowing oneself an occasional diet violation after a period of restrained eating may actually lead to better diet outcomes compared to trying to completely control one's eating behaviour (Coelho do Vale et al., 2016). Allowing oneself some unhealthy or indulgent behaviour on occasion may act as a positive reinforcement for a healthy behaviour which may increase the likelihood of exhibiting the healthy behaviour in the future. ...
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Background Little is known about the sequential interplay of different health behaviours. Health behaviours may be connected in four different ways: a healthy behaviour may lead to a subsequent healthy or unhealthy behaviour (positive consistency and licensing, respectively), or an unhealthy behaviour may lead to a subsequent unhealthy or healthy behaviour (negative consistency and cleansing, respectively). In this study, these four possible types of sequential health behaviours were examined jointly in people's daily life. Methods The study used ecological momentary assessment. Participants (N = 235; 55% female; age 18–45) were randomly signalled five times daily on their smart phones for seven consecutive days. They reported both healthy and unhealthy behaviours that occurred within the past hour. Participants were also asked if the (healthy or unhealthy) behaviour was related to any previous healthy or unhealthy behaviour. In addition, they completed measures of life satisfaction, general health status, and compensatory health beliefs. Results Positive consistency predicted satisfaction with life, whereas negative consistency and cleansing negatively predicted general health status. Compensatory health beliefs were not related to actual cleansing or licensing behaviour. Conclusions Fostering positive consistency and discouraging cleansing behaviour should play a pivotal role in health promotion programmes.
... Specifically, in the long-term, allowing oneself the occasional diet violation may be a better strategy than aiming for complete control over one's eating behavior. While many popular diets already acknowledge this notion by incorporating "cheat days" into their regime, and evidence that flexible diets result in better outcomes than more rigid diets (e.g., Coelho do Vale, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2015;Westenhoefer, Stunkard, & Pudel, 1999), this has not led to a more nuanced definition of self-licensing. ...
... Other findings that suggest that some self-licensing of diet violations lead to better outcomes come from Coelho do Vale et al. (2015), who showed the benefits of incorporating moments of indulgence into one's diet, referred to as "intermittent goal striving," compared to straight and rigid goal striving. According to the authors, the key to this approach is that these moments are planned, which they manipulated by providing participants with a weekly diet in which they either were allowed to eat 1,500 kcal for seven days in the rigid goal striving condition, or 1,300 kcal for six days and 2,700 kcal on the seventh day in the intermittent goal striving condition (summing up to 10,500 kcal in both conditions). ...
Article
Objective Giving in to food temptations is typically labeled as self‐regulation failure. However, when indulgence stems from self‐licensing processes, i.e., relying on reasons to justify diet deviations, these instances might actually promote successful goal striving. This research aimed to theoretically define and test under what conditions self‐licensing would be considered functional (e.g., when it ultimately serves the long‐term goal of weight control) and dysfunctional (e.g., when it threatens successful goal striving) Method First, a pool of items reflecting functional and dysfunctional ways of self‐licensing was tested and representative items were selected (Study 1; N = 194). Next, their classification was corroborated by examining the associations with indices of (un)successful dietary regulation (Study 2; N = 147). Finally, it was tested whether (dys)functional self‐licensing predicted unhealthy snack intake, by means of participants keeping an unhealthy snack diary (Study 3; N = 54) Results The theorized distinction was confirmed, and the obtained correlational patterns supported the proposed (dys)functionality of the two types of self‐licensing. Importantly, results showed that dysfunctional self‐licensing predicted higher snack intake, whereas functional self‐licensing predicted lower snack intake Conclusion The present studies provide evidence for the existence of two types of self‐licensing, and thereby contributes to theoretical development. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Dietary intake patterns are often habitual and ingrained (32,33) The overall complexity of a new diet strategy, including the degree of change required to conform, can impact adherence and weight loss maintenance (34). ...
Article
The metabolic syndrome consists of a constellation of clinical factors associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Preclinical studies demonstrate that restricting the time during a 24 hour period when an obese animal eats (time restricted feeding) leads to metabolic benefits. These benefits, which may or may not be associated with weight loss, often lead to improvements in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Studies seeking to determine whether similar benefits result when humans restrict daily eating time (time restricted eating), are less mature and less consistent in their findings. In this commentary we outline some of the exciting preclinical findings, the challenges that preliminary studies in humans present, and efforts of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and specifically the National Cancer Institute to address the role of time restricted eating in cancer.
... However, the positive results from studies reporting 80-90% TRE adherence suggest that, at minimum, one day off from TRE per week is likely to still provide substantial health benefits. It has been suggested that a priori prescription of a planned hedonic goal deviation (e.g., one 'cheat' day per week) will enhance long-term adherence to the intervention by enhancing motivation to persist, improving emotional experience, and helping with self-regulation [130]. Therefore, a pre-emptive prescription of TRE for only 5-6 days of the week may be an effective strategy that should be further explored. ...
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There is substantial overlap in risk factors for the pathogenesis and progression of breast cancer (BC) and cardiovascular disease (CVD), including obesity, metabolic disturbances, and chronic inflammation. These unifying features remain prevalent after a BC diagnosis and are exacerbated by BC treatment, resulting in elevated CVD risk among survivors. Thus, therapies that target these risk factors or mechanisms are likely to be effective for the prevention or progression of both conditions. In this narrative review, we propose time-restricted eating (TRE) as a simple lifestyle therapy to address many upstream causative factors associated with both BC and CVD. TRE is simple dietary strategy that typically involves the consumption of ad libitum energy intake within 8 h, followed by a 16-h fast. We describe the feasibility and safety of TRE and the available evidence for the impact of TRE on metabolic, cardiovascular, and cancer-specific health benefits. We also highlight potential solutions for overcoming barriers to adoption and adherence and areas requiring future research. In composite, we make the case for the use of TRE as a novel, safe, and feasible intervention for primary and secondary BC prevention, as well as tertiary prevention as it relates to CVD in BC survivors.
... Dietary intake patterns are often habitual and ingrained (32,33) The overall complexity of a new diet strategy, including the degree of change required to conform, can impact adherence and weight loss maintenance (34). ...
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A growing body of literature examines the potential benefits of a time-based diet strategy referred to as time-restricted eating (TRE). TRE, a type of intermittent fasting, restricts the time of eating to a window of 4–12 h/d but allows ad libitum intake during eating windows. Although TRE diets do not overtly attempt to reduce energy intake, preliminary evidence from small studies suggests that TRE can lead to concomitant reduction in total energy, improvements in metabolic health, and weight loss. Unique features of the TRE diet strategy may facilitate adherence and long-term weight loss maintenance. In this Perspective, we explore the potential multilevel (i.e., biological, behavioral, psychosocial, environmental) facilitators and barriers of TRE for long-term weight loss maintenance in comparison with the more commonly used diet strategy, caloric restriction (CR). Compared with CR, TRE may facilitate weight loss maintenance by counteracting physiological adaptations to weight loss (biological), allowing for usual dietary preferences to be maintained (behavioral), preserving executive functioning (psychosocial), and enabling individuals to withstand situational pressures to overeat (environmental). However, TRE may also pose unique barriers to weight loss maintenance, particularly for individuals with poor baseline diet quality, internal or social pressures to eat outside selected windows (e.g., grazers), and competing demands that interfere with the scheduling of eating. Future studies of TRE in free-living individuals should consider the multiple levels of influence impacting long-term adherence and weight loss maintenance. Ultimately, TRE could be one strategy in a toolkit of tailored diet strategies to support metabolic health and weight loss maintenance.
... A 'flexible restraint' approach to eating was described more often by Maintainers, particularly during later WLM interviews, which could be a key factor in promoting enjoyment, sustainability and adherence (7) . Planned goal deviations (e.g. to include moderate amounts of favourite high-calorie foods within one's diet) may help to retain self-regulatory resources (35) . ...
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Background Qualitative studies investigating weight management experiences are usually cross‐sectional or of short duration, which limits understanding of the long‐term challenges. Methods Eleven women [mean (SD) age 44.9 (9.8) years; body mass index 40.3 (4.0) kg m⁻²] participated in this longitudinal qualitative study, which included up to 20 weeks of total diet replacement (825–853 kcal day⁻¹) and ongoing support for weight loss maintenance (WLM), to 2 years. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted at baseline and programme end, as well as at key intervals during the intervention. Questions examined five theoretical themes: motivation, self‐regulation, habits, psychological resources and social/environmental influences. Data were coded and analysed in nvivo (https://qsrinternational.com/nvivo) using the framework method. Results In total, 64 interviews were completed (median, n = 6 per participant). Mean (SD) weight loss was 15.7 (9.6) kg (14.6% body weight) at 6 months and 9.6 (9.9) kg (8.8% body weight) at 2 years. The prespecified theoretical model offered a useful framework to capture the variability of experiences. Negative aspects of obesity were strong motivations for weight loss and maintenance. Perceiving new routines as sustainable and developing a ‘maintenance mindset’ was characteristic of ‘Maintainers’, whereas meeting emotional needs at the expense of WLM goals during periods of stress and negative mood states was reported more often by ‘Regainers’. Optimistic beliefs about maintaining weight losses appeared to interfere with barrier identification and coping planning for most participants. Conclusions People tended to be very optimistic about WLM without acknowledging barriers and this may undermine longer‐term outcomes. The potential for regain remained over time, mainly as a result of emotion‐triggered eating to alleviate stress and negative feelings. More active self‐regulation during these circumstances may improve WLM, and these situations represent important targets for intervention.
... This also helps to rule out an account of loss aversion -the framing effect emerged irrespective of whether the decision reflected a gain (e.g., starting from a low reference point) or a loss (e.g., starting from a high reference point). In addition, it is not a priori clear whether choosing or rejecting unhealthy lunches would be perceived as a loss (study 4) -rejecting unhealthy lunches helps to achieve a goal, while choosing unhealthy lunches can be pleasurable (do Vale et al. 2016). Arguably, both options contain some gains/benefits and some losses/costs, rendering a loss-aversion based explanation less parsimonious. ...
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The consumer behavior literature extensively studied the impact of goal setting on behavior and performance. However, much less is known about the antecedents of goal level setting – consumers’ decision of whether to work out twice or three times per week. Consumers can decide how many goal-consistent activities to undertake (‘goal-consistent decision frame’; such as exercising two days per week) or to forego (‘goal-inconsistent decision frame’; such as not exercising five days per week). While objectively the same decision, we argue that these different frames impact consumers’ ambition. Making a decision to forego goal-consistent activities triggers negative, self-evaluative emotions and to compensate for these unfavorable self-evaluations, consumers set more ambitious goal levels. Across a variety of contexts, consumers are more ambitious when their focal decision is inconsistent with goal achievement. For instance, they decide to work out more often when they decide how many work-out sessions they would skip (versus attend). The impact of goal-inconsistent decision framing is mitigated when the activity is less instrumental towards goal achievement, and when negative self-evaluative emotions are alleviated through self-affirmation.
... However, "cheat days" are common practice with dieting and literature has reported this could be beneficial for motivation and avoiding too much rigidity. 20 The outcome measures reported herein for HbA1c and BMI are aligned with previous studies demonstrating the benefit of CGM. For example, Vigersky et al 10 who showed in a meta-analysis of five clinical trials that HbA1c levels decreased by 0.6%-2.3% in three to seven days of CGM usage, whereas Allen et al 21 found that after eight weeks, 26 patients reduced their HbA1C by 1.2%, lowered BMI by 0.5, and increased their exercise from 13 to 20 minutes a day compared to a nonsignificant 0.3% decrease for a control group with no change in BMI or exercise. ...
Article
Background: Approximately 30 million Americans currently suffer from diabetes, and nearly 55 million people will be impacted by 2030. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems help patients manage their care with real-time data. Although approximately 95% of those with diabetes suffer from type 2, few studies have measured CGM's clinical impact for this segment within an integrated healthcare system. Methods: A parallel randomized, multisite prospective trial was conducted using a new CGM device (Dexcom G6) compared to a standard of care finger stick glucometer (FSG) (Contour Next One). All participants received usual care in primary care clinics for six consecutive months while using these devices. Data were collected via electronic medical records, device outputs, exit surveys, and insurance company (SelectHealth) claims in accordance with institutional review board approval. Results: Ninety-nine patients were randomized for analysis (n = 50 CGM and n = 49 FSG). CGM patients significantly decreased hemoglobin A1c (p = .001), total visits (p = .009), emergency department encounters (p = .018), and labs ordered (p = .001). Among SelectHealth non-Medicare Advantage patients, per member per month savings were $417 for CGM compared to FSG, but $9 more for Medicare Advantage. Seventy percent of CGM users reported that the technology helped them better understand daily activity and diet compared to only 16% for FSG. Discussion: Participants using CGM devices had meaningful improvements in clinical outcomes, costs, and self-reported measures compared to the FSG group. Although a larger study is necessary to confirm these results, CGM devices appear to improve patient outcomes while making treatment more affordable.
... Notably, recent literature points out that single instances of indulgence do not necessarily pose a serious threat to long-term goals (Prinsen, Dohle, Evers, De Ridder, & Hofmann, 2018). In some cases, the indulgent choice may even be preferred over absolute restraint as the occasional "slip up" may foster continuous goal striving in the long run (Coelho do Vale, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2016;Prinsen, Evers, Wijngaards, van Vliet, & De Ridder, 2018). However, when people simply seize any reason there is to indulge in short-term temptations repeatedly, self-licensing is better to be minimized as it can harm long-term goal pursuit. ...
... Social activities could boost positive influences on retirement (Bernasek & Shwiff, 2001). Workers that are involved with social activities related to human interaction such as religious groups have a greater concern upon retirement planning (Do Vale et al., 2016). These workers tend to be single adults. ...
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Thailand has now become the aging society. However, the fact that the majority of Thai wageworkers do not effectively save for their retirement may result in several elderly living below the poverty threshold during retirement. The objectives of this research article were to find the factors determining Thai wageworkers’ retirement contribution. Founded on the theory of life-cycle hypothesis, this article employed a sample of 300 wageworkers in the Northeast of Thailand and performed a statistical analysis using the structural equation modeling (SEM) approach using age as a moderator. The empirical results revealed that expected income, wealth accumulation, career status, and health status were the main constructs influencing an individual’s ability to contribute to his or her retirement. This article suggested that a wageworker should first contribute his or her income through wealth accumulation schemes such as investment in financial assets, for example, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and properties, investment in other business as a second job, and simply cash deposit. The results suggested that wealth accumulation was the most important mediator allowing a wageworker to contribute to retirement effectively in the long term. This article also proposed thoughtful research implications for wageworkers, employers, and the Thai government. This article recommended that the government and authorized bodies (e.g., the Bank of Thailand and the Stock Exchange of Thailand) should provide more investment alternatives and improve investment knowledge of the citizens. This would allow the citizens to have sufficient financial knowledge to invest in riskier financial instruments that potentially give better returns such as stocks.
... Evidence from the domain of healthy eating suggests that, indeed, people who are of healthy weights (i.e., who may be classified as successful self-regulators) indicate to gain pleasure from eating more so than people who are overweight (e.g., Epstein et al., 1989;Kuijer & Boyce, 2014). Even more telling are findings showing that planned hedonic deviations (i.e., deliberately giving in to temptation) can in fact be beneficial for long-term goal achievement (Coelho do Vale, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2016). Along these lines, scholars have recently suggested to distinguish between functional and dysfunctional self-licensing, where the former refers to self-justified diet violations (i.e., giving in to temptations) that help people adhere to their overall diet goals and is thereby related to self-regulatory success (Prinsen, Dohle, Evers, de Ridder & Hofmann, 2018). ...
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Inspired by some of current Western societies' most pressing problems, much research attention has been devoted to understanding self‐regulation failure. While this has yielded some very valuable insights, the current paper underlines that understanding self‐regulation failure does not mean that we also understand self‐regulation success. Whereas failure and success are semantic antonyms, in terms of self‐regulation research, they should not be regarded as mere opposites. First, on the process level, self‐regulation success versus failure is not simply a matter of inverse explanatory factors (e.g., the capacity to inhibit impulses vs. a lack thereof). Second, on the outcome level, self‐regulation success versus failure is not strictly a matter of inverse behavioral action (e.g., abstaining from versus indulging in immediate gratification). This has significant implications, the most important one being that to understand self‐regulation success, researchers need to take a more holistic perspective rather than mainly considering single instances when studying self‐regulation.
... From conditions including adversity [34], they can tolerate and accept what is beyond their control, assert their moral agency to act authentically and with agility to achieve personal goals under their control, and construct as positive a meaning as is feasible for them from the ways in which they have faced and ascended challenges. These attitudes would strengthen their personal identity and commitment and capacity to satisfy and regulate their appetite to flourish, for example by including planned hedonic deviations from a goal-directed plan [35]. ...
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Purpose: Rehabilitation is commonly portrayed as care that seeks to enable persons who are disabled to recover as normal a state of well-being as their personal and social circumstances allow. In contrast, this article frames psychological preconditions for persons living with disabilities to flourish toward, around or even beyond recovery through health care provision before, during or after injury. Method: This conceptual article uses reasoning and creative word play, informed by experience and literature from disciplines including psychology and philosophy. Results: Ultrabilitation promotes seven psychological preconditions of flourishing by persons with disabilities. These interconnected conditions are: apprehension; appetite; “attitude”; ambiguity; autonomy; accountability and ambiopia. Conclusions: Clinicians could partner with persons living with disabilities to promote these mental preconditions for flourishing, and use ultrabilitation to resist potentially destabilizing forces such as social imperatives to recovery and normalcy. • Implications for rehabilitation • Clinicians can support persons with disabilities to optimize mental states that enable them to flourish in everyday life. • Apprehension, including awareness of and anxiety about disability and its management, can motivate persons to assent to capabilities to flourish. • Apprehension and ambiguity can feed an appetite for personal growth and an attitude that trusts in genuine possibilities for growth through autonomy and accountability. • Autonomy frees persons to accept what they cannot change; set and implement challenging but achievable goals in creative ways; and learn to lose control without viewing disability as something that they need to get beyond in order to flourish.
... One proposed benefit of adopting an IER regime over CER is that refeed periods may provide a mental break from extended periods of ER, leading to improved long-term adherence to the dietary schedule. In one randomised controlled trial, participants were randomly allocated to a role-playing scenario that simulated either seven days of an IER model (six days of 1300 kcal/d followed by one day of 2700 kcal/d refeed) or CER (seven days of 1500 kcal/d) [102]. While both simulated conditions were energetically matched (10,500 kcal per week), participants in the IER group demonstrated a higher-than-expected self-regulatory ability (they were expected to experience more positive affect during the diet phase) and generated more strategies to overcome dietary temptations than participants in the CER group. ...
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Athletes utilise numerous strategies to reduce body weight or body fat prior to competition. The traditional approach requires continuous energy restriction (CER) for the entire weight loss phase (typically days to weeks). However, there is some suggestion that intermittent energy restriction (IER), which involves alternating periods of energy restriction with periods of greater energy intake (referred to as ‘refeeds’ or ‘diet breaks’) may result in superior weight loss outcomes than CER. This may be due to refeed periods causing transitory restoration of energy balance. Some studies indicate that intermittent periods of energy balance during energy restriction attenuate some of the adaptive responses that resist the continuation of weight and fat loss. While IER—like CER—is known to effectively reduce body fat in non-athletes, evidence for effectiveness of IER in athletic populations is lacking. This review provides theoretical considerations for successful body composition adjustment using IER, with discussion of how the limited existing evidence can be cautiously applied in athlete practice.
... Timing: Future (Anticipated) Fishbach & Dhar (2005) Planning to make goal-consistent choices in the future increased present goal-inconsistent choices due to perceptions of progress (Study 4). * Coelho et al. (2016) Including small, minor planned goal-inconsistent behaviors in the future helps consumers persist at present goal-consistent behaviors. ...
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Prior work has examined how, in the pursuit of long‐term goals, past goal behavior influences present goal choices. Instead, the present work focuses on how anticipating future goal behavior, specifically future goal‐inconsistent behavior, influences present goal choices. For example, how anticipating overspending on an upcoming vacation influences current spending behavior. The authors propose that the effect of anticipated goal‐inconsistent behavior on present goal choice is moderated by the perceived changeability of the future behavior. When future goal‐inconsistent behavior is perceived as changeable, consumers tend to imagine it away, and it has no systematic effect on present goal choices. However, when future goal‐inconsistent behavior is perceived as unchangeable, consumers accept it as a matter of fact, and systematic effects occur. Specifically, some consumers not only fail to buffer against future goal‐inconsistent behavior's negative consequences, but tend to exacerbate those consequences by increasing their goal‐inconsistent behavior in the present. Four studies examine this surprising behavior, using an individual difference (the response‐to‐failure scale) to identify when and for whom it occurs. The studies demonstrate the role of perceived changeability using various manipulations across multiple critical goal domains such as spending, eating, and academics.
Article
In the present study, we aimed to investigate how two types of self-licensing (functional and dysfunctional self-licensing) are related to unhealthy snack consumption. Self-licensing refers to the act of using justifications before gratifications and has been associated with higher snack consumption. Previous research has found that while functional self-licensing decreases unhealthy snack consumption, dysfunctional self-licensing increases the number of calories taken from unhealthy snacks. Building upon existing evidence, we addressed functional and dysfunctional self-licensing to investigate how self-licensing behaviors are associated with daily variables (i.e., stress and sleep) and unhealthy snacking habits. Participants (N = 124) were given a battery of measures at the start of the week and asked to send their snack consumption every night for a week via an online questionnaire, along with daily stress and sleep items. The data were analyzed with Hierarchical Linear Modelling. Neither self-licensing measures nor unhealthy snacking habits predicted unhealthy snack consumption. Daily stress was associated with lower unhealthy snack consumption. However, the interaction between daily stress and functional self-licensing was significant, suggesting that on stressful days functional self-licensers consume even fewer unhealthy snacks compared to less stressful days. Functional and dysfunctional self-licensing are rather new constructs which is why examining their effects is important for further research. However, in contrast to the existing evidence, we failed to find an effect of both types of self-licensing on snack consumption, suggesting the effect depends on potential contextual or individual-specific factors. Future research using a dieting sample is warranted for a better understanding of how functional and dysfunctional self-licensing operate.
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The climate crisis, coupled with the COVID‐19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, are contributing to a shift in what people eat. For environmental sustainability, social justice, ethical, and health reasons, people are moving toward plant‐based diets, which involve consuming mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans and little or no meat and dairy products. Drawing on insights from consumer psychology, this review synthesizes academic research at the intersection of food and consumer values to propose a framework for understanding how and why these values—Sustainability, Equity, Ethics, and Dining for health—are transforming what people eat. We term our model the SEED framework. We build this framework around a report assembled by the Rockefeller Foundation (2021) that describes how to grow a value‐based societal food system. Finally, we highlight insights from consumer psychology that promote an understanding of how consumer values are shifting people's diets and raise research questions to encourage more consumer psychologists to investigate how and why values influence what consumers eat, which in turn impacts the well‐being of people, our environment, and society.
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This article synthesizes recent findings on antecedents of healthy eating. We discuss consumer-related and environment-related forces that influence consumers’ healthy food choices and emphasize the duality of these forces so that they can facilitate but also prevent healthy eating. Specifically, our review documents how consumer lay beliefs, goals, and habits shape eating patterns. We further document the impact of environment-related forces on healthy consumption—focusing on intervention strategies and environmental changes (i.e., the trend towards online retail channels). Finally, we discuss three salient tensions (i.e., an innate craving for unhealthy food, a focus on single decisions, and a selective focus on self-control dilemmas) that emerge when taking a holistic view on existing research.
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OBJECTIVE Consuming ≥150 g/day carbohydrate is recommended for 3 days before an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) for diabetes diagnosis. For evaluation of this recommendation, time courses of glycemic changes following transition from a very-low-carbohydrate (VLC) to high-carbohydrate diet were assessed with continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS After achieving a weight loss target of 15% (±3%) on the run-in VLC diet, participants (18–50 years old, BMI ≥27 kg/m2) were randomly assigned for 10 weeks to one of three isoenergetic diets: VLC (5% carbohydrate and 77% fat); high carbohydrate, high starch (HC-Starch) (57% carbohydrate and 25% fat, including 20% refined grains); and high carbohydrate, high sugar (HC-Sugar) (57% carbohydrate and 25% fat, including 20% sugar). CGM was done throughout the trial (n = 64) and OGTT at start and end (n = 41). All food was prepared in a metabolic kitchen and consumed under observation. RESULTS Glucose metrics continued to decline after week 1 in the HC-Starch and HC-Sugar groups (P < 0.05) but not VLC. During weeks 2–5, fasting and 2-h glucose (millimoles per liter per week) decreased in HC-Starch (fasting −0.10, P = 0.001; 2 h −0.10, P = 0.04). During weeks 6–9, 2-h glucose decreased in HC-Starch (−0.07, P = 0.01) and fasting and 2-h glucose decreased in HC-Sugar (fasting −0.09, P = 0.001; 2 h −0.09, P = 0.003). The number of participants with abnormal glucose tolerance by OGTT remained 10 (of 16) in VLC at start and end but decreased from 17 to 9 (of 25) in both high-carbohydrate groups. CONCLUSIONS Physiological adaptation from a low- to high-carbohydrate diet may require many weeks, with implications for the accuracy of diabetes tests, interpretation of macronutrient trials, and risks of periodic planned deviations from a VLC diet.
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Purpose: The present study investigates the role of body dissatisfaction in mediating the relationship between physical appearance concern and the use of slimming products. Design/methodology/approach: It employs a mediation model built using the PLS-SEM technique among a sample of 835 adult women. Findings: The results show body dissatisfaction partially mediates the effect of physical appearance concern on the intention to use slimming products. The results demonstrate that physical appearance concern increases body dissatisfaction in women, as well as reinforcing the relationship between those factors and the increased intention to use slimming products. Originality/value: The study extends the knowledge on the topic, explaining the antecedents, and the mediator of the intention to use slimming products.
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Guilt and shame, two negative self-conscious emotions, have drawn theoretical and empirical attention in studying self-control. Although a functionalist view suggests that their reparative tendencies would help combat self-control failures, the evidence is equivocal. In this review, we begin with a systematic analysis of how the context of self-control conflicts allows mood management to dominate reparative control as the primary means of regulating guilt and shame and, subsequently, sours the potential benefits of mood management. Then, inspired by the emerging literature of strategic indulgence and a multilevel perspective on self-control, we propose that people should adopt a tolerant view of indulgence at the behavioral level while channeling the reparative tendencies of guilt and shame at the strategy (behavioral plans) and the system (goal balance) levels. When appraising and regulating self-control, thus, focusing on the forest rather than the trees may help capitalize on the benefits of guilt and shame.
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This article explores the course of motivation in pursuing various goals. We distinguish between two dimensions of motivation: the motivation to attain a focal goal (outcome-focused dimension) and the motivation to “do things right” in the process of reaching that goal (means-focused dimension). We identify the conditions under which the motivation to reach a focal goal increases versus decreases over the course of goal pursuit. We then propose that the motivation to “do things right” follows a u-shaped pattern, such that it is higher at the beginning and end of goal pursuit than in the middle.
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Consumer behavior offers a useful window on human nature, through which many distinctively human patterns of cognition and behavior can be observed. Consumer behavior should therefore be of central interest to a broad range of psychologists. These patterns include much of what is commonly understood as free will. Our approach to understanding free will sidesteps metaphysical and theological debates. Belief in free will is pervasive in human social life and contributes to its benefits. Evolution endowed humans with a new form of action control, which is what people understand by free will. Its complexity and flexibility are suited to the distinctively human forms of social life in culture, with its abstract rules, expanded time span, diverse interdependent roles, and other sources of opportunities and constraints. Self-control, planful action, and rational choice are vital forms of free will in this sense. The capacity for self-control and intelligent decision making involves a common, limited resource that uses the body's basic energy supply. When this resource is depleted, self-control fails and decision making is impaired.
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Despite the vast public policy efforts to promote the consumption of healthy foods and the public's growing concern with weight management, the proportion of overweight individuals continues to increase. An important factor contributing to this obesity trend is the misguided belief about the relationship between a meal's healthiness and its impact on weight gain, whereby people erroneously believe that eating healthy foods in addition to unhealthy ones can decrease a meal's calorie count. This research documents this misperception, showing that it is stronger among individuals most concerned with managing their weight—a striking result given that these individuals are more motivated to monitor their calorie intake. This finding has important public policy implications, suggesting that in addition to encouraging the adoption of a healthier lifestyle among overweight individuals, promoting the consumption of healthy foods might end up facilitating calorie overconsumption, leading to weight gain rather than weight loss.
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Self-control is a promising concept for consumer research, and self-control failure may be an important cause of impulsive purchasing. Three causes of self-control failure are described. First, conflicting goals and standards undermine control, such as when the goal of feeling better immediately conflicts with the goal of saving money. Second, failure to keep track of (monitor) one's own behavior renders control difficult. Third, self-control depends on a resource that operates like strength or energy, and depletion of this resource makes self-control less effective. Trait differences in self-control predict many behaviors. Implications for theory and research in consumer behavior are discussed.
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The major patterns of self-regulatory failure are reviewed. Underregulation occurs because of deficient standards, inadequate monitoring, or inadequate strength. Misregulation occurs because of false assumptions or misdirected efforts, especially an unwarranted emphasis on emotion. The evidence supports a strength (limited resource) model of self-regulation and suggests that people often acquiesce in losing control. Loss of control of attention, failure of transcendence, and various lapse-activated causes all contribute to regulatory failure.
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In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
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This research examines the role of regulatory focus in the experience and control of desire for temptations, the fulfillment of which conflicts with other salient goals of the consumer. Relative to a prevention focus (i.e., an orientation away from negative outcomes), our findings demonstrate that a promotion focus (i.e., an orientation toward positive outcomes) not only increases the intensity of desire experienced on encountering a temptation, but also increases success of its subsequent resistance. Differences in self-control efficacy are found to be mediated by the type of self-control strategies consumers use in the 2 foci. Convergent evidence obtained in 4 studies, considering situational and dispositional aspects of regulatory focus, indicates that when temptations are encountered by consumers, regulatory focus is an important determinant of the degree of desire, and the nature and outcome of self-control.
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Regulatory engagement theory [Higgins, E. T. (2006). Value from hedonic experience and engagement. Psychological Review, 113, 439-460.] proposes that value is a motivational force of attraction to or repulsion from something, and that strength of engagement contributes to value intensity independent of hedonic and other sources of value direction. This paper reviews different sources of engagement strength, including dealing with challenges by opposing interfering forces and overcoming personal resistance, preparing for something that is likely to happen, and using "fit" or "proper" means of goal pursuit. We present evidence that each of these sources of engagement strength can intensify the value of something, and we show how stronger engagement can not only make something positive more positive but also make something negative more negative. We also discuss how these effects of stronger engagement on the value of something else are independent of actors' own personal experiences during goal pursuit. We then broaden regulatory engagement theory by describing the nature of these personal experiences from different sources of engagement strength - distinct positive experiences (e.g., feeling "pleasure" vs. feeling "right") and distinct negative experiences (e.g., feeling "tension" vs. feeling "defiance") - and consider the science and art of combining them with engagement strength for maximal persuasion and influence.
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Two studies examined lay people's understanding of goals and intentional actions, which are key concepts in folk psychology. The studies show how predictions of goals and actions are affected by actors' beliefs about their abilities and their actual possession of the preconditions required for the actions. In some conditions, the beliefs and the preconditions were contradictory. Actors' beliefs about their abilities shaped observers' goal ascriptions, whereas actual preconditions dominated predictions about action accomplishment. Participants judged the relationship between goals and actions to be stronger when preconditions were present. Participants judged that neither beliefs nor preconditions were necessary for the actor to have action fantasies. These studies clarify how folk psychological concepts of desires, beliefs, and preconditions relate to each other and how they relate to attributions of goals and actions. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Warning labels on violent television programs give viewers discretionary advice and, therefore, might arouse reactance in viewers of all ages. Information labels give viewers information but no advice and, therefore, should not arouse reactance. Five age groups were tested: 9-11 year olds, 12-14 year olds, 15-17 years olds, 18-20 year olds, and adults at least 21 years old. Participants (N=900) read descriptions of violent and nonviolent TV programs and rated how much they wanted to watch them. The description contained a warning label, an information label, or no label. Consistent with reactance theory, results showed that warning labels drew people of all ages to violent TV programs. Information labels did not draw viewers to violent programs.
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The present study aims to answer two questions: (1) are expectations of future positive experiences related to well-being in the general population?; and (2) what factors (social, psychological, economic) enable people to have expectations of future positive experiences. A community sample (N = 84) was assessed on a measure of anticipation of future positive and negative experiences, factors that might enable positive anticipation (measures of income, social networks, planning ability, and affective capacity) and measures of subjective well-being (positive and negative affect and life satisfaction). Subjective well-being was related to having more anticipated positive experiences, which was in turn related to having a large social network, having a high number of steps in plans to achieve goals, and, more marginally, to having a high household income.
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Previous work has shown that acts of self-regulation appear to deplete a psychological resource, resulting in poorer self-regulation subsequently. Four experiments using assorted manipulations and measures found that positive mood or emotion can counteract ego depletion. After an initial act of self-regulation, participants who watched a comedy video or received a surprise gift self-regulated on various tasks as well as non-depleted participants and significantly better than participants who experienced a sad mood induction, a neutral mood stimulus, or a brief rest period.
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This article proposes that binge eating is motivated by a desire to escape from self-awareness. Binge eaters suffer from high standards and expectations, especially an acute sensitivity to the difficult (perceived) demands of others. When they fall short of these standards, they develop an aversive pattern of high self-awareness, characterized by unflattering views of self and concern over how they are perceived by others. These aversive self-perceptions are accompanied by emotional distress, which often includes anxiety and depression. To escape from this unpleasant state, binge eaters attempt the cognitive response of narrowing attention to the immediate stimulus environment and avoiding broadly meaningful thought. This narrowing of attention disengages normal inhibitions against eating and fosters an uncritical acceptance of irrational beliefs and thoughts. The escape model is capable of integrating much of the available evidence about binge eating.
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This study was designed to test the hypothesis that different types of dieting strategies are associated with different behavioral outcomes by investigating the relationship of dieting behaviors with overeating, body mass and mood. A sample of 223 adult male and female participants from a large community were studied. Only a small proportion of the sample (18%) was seeking weight loss treatment, though almost half (49.3%) of the subjects were significantly overweight (body mass index, BMI>30). Subjects were administered questionnaires measuring dietary restraint, overeating, depression and anxiety. Measurements of height and weight were also obtained in order to calculate BMI. Canonical correlation was performed to evaluate the relationship of dietary restraint variables with overeating variables, body mass, depression and anxiety. The strongest canonical correlation (r=0.65) was the relationship between flexible dieting and the absence of overeating, lower body mass and lower levels of depression and anxiety. The second strongest canonical correlation (r=0.59) associated calorie counting and conscious dieting with overeating while alone and increased body mass. The third canonical correlation (r=0.57) found a relationship between low dietary restraint and binge eating. The results support the hypothesis that overeating and other adverse behaviors and moods are associated with the presence or absence of certain types of dieting behavior.
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Three studies were conducted to test the behavioral consequences of effortful self-regulation. Individuals with chronic inhibitions about eating were exposed to situations varying in level of self-regulatory demand. Subsequently, participants' ability to self-regulate was measured. Two studies manipulated self-regulatory demand by exposing participants to good-tasting snack foods, whereas a third study required participants to control their emotional expressions. As hypothesized, exerting self-control during the first task led to decrements in self-control on a subsequent task. Moreover, these effects were not due to changes in affective state and occurred only when self-control was required in the first task. These findings are explained in terms of depletion of self-regulatory resources, which impairs successful volitional control.
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The decision to eat, and to eat particular foods, varies for different individuals and situations. Individual differences in food likes and desires develop throughout life because of differing food experiences and attitudes. There are many internal and external cues, not just stimulation from foods or hunger, which can trigger the immediate desire to eat or orient eating toward certain foods. Food desires and intake are an outcome of interactions between these cues and more stable individual physiological and psychological characteristics. Overweight and obese individuals show a tendency toward greater liking and selection of energy-dense foods, which may contribute to development and maintenance of these conditions. However, although liking (pleasure from eating) is an important part of food choice, it may make only a modest contribution to overall variation in food choice and eating behaviors. Indeed, difficulties of weight control may reflect problems with cues and motivations to eat, rather than with heightened pleasure derived from eating. Paradoxically, individuals highly concerned with food intake and weight control may be particularly susceptible to thoughts, emotions, and situational cues that can prompt overeating and undermine their attempts to restrain eating. Repeat dieting, high day-to-day fluctuations in intakes, and attempts to enforce highly rigid control over eating all seem to be counterproductive to weight control efforts and may disrupt more appropriate food choice behaviors. Longer-term weight maintenance solutions and programs that offer a degree of structuring of the personal food environment, while retaining flexibility in choices, therefore, may be particularly beneficial in weight management.
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The correlates of rigid and flexible dieting were examined in a sample of 188 nonobese women recruited from the community and from a university. The primary aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that women who utilize rigid versus flexible dieting strategies to prevent weight gain report more eating disorder symptoms and higher body mass index (BMI) in comparison to women who utilize flexible dieting strategies. The study sample included women who were underweight (29%), normal weight (52%), and overweight (19%). None of the women were obese, as defined by BMI>30. Participants were administered a questionnaire that measures Rigid Control and Flexible Control of eating. Body weight and height were measured and measures of eating disorder symptoms and mood disturbances were administered. Our results indicated that BMI was significantly correlated with rigid dieting and flexible dieting. BMI was controlled statistically in other analyses. The study found that individuals who engage in rigid dieting strategies reported symptoms of an eating disorder, mood disturbances, and excessive concern with body size/shape. In contrast, flexible dieting strategies were not highly associated with BMI, eating disorder symptoms, mood disturbances, or concerns with body size. Since this was a cross sectional study, causality of eating disorder symptoms could not be addressed. These findings replicate and extend the findings of earlier studies. These findings suggest that rigid dieting strategies, but not flexible dieting strategies, are associated with eating disorder symptoms and higher BMI in nonobese women.
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Research has found that individuals who are lower in self-control strength because of previous self-control exertions perform more poorly on subsequent tests of self-control. The present studies suggest that this effect may be moderated by motivation. In particular, depletion and motivation jointly determine self-control performance. Individuals who were depleted and believed that the task would help others (Experiment 1) or believed that their efforts could benefit them (Experiment 2) performed better on a subsequent test of self-control than individuals who were depleted and lower in motivation. The results of Experiment 3 replicated these findings and suggested that depletion only affects performance on tasks that require self-control; tasks that are difficult but do not require self-control are immune to the effects of depletion. Hence, depleted individuals may compensate for their lack of self-control resources when sufficiently motivated. The results may help explain the nature of self-control strength.