When does planning NOT help consumers gain self-control?

Mar 15, 2012

Planning your diet won't really help you gain self-control unless you're feeling good about your weight in the first place, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. And the same goes for saving money.

"Although planning tends to aid subsequent self-control for those who are in good standing with respect to their long-term goal, those who perceive themselves to be in poor goal standing are found to exert less self-control after planning than in the absence of planning," write authors Claudia Townsend (University of Miami) and Wendy Liu (University of San Diego).

The authors found that making a concrete plan for implementing goals creates for people who believe they are in poor standing with respect to their goals. This, in turn, undermines their motivation for self-regulation.

In five studies, the authors randomly assigned participants to a planning or no planning condition. In the diet studies, the people in the planning condition were asked to plan their diet and for the rest of the day, while those in the non-planning condition did not. Then all the participants were offered a snack. In some studies, participants chose between raisins or a . In another study, the choice was between cookies or no snack at all. "What we found was among respondents who felt good about their weight, planning led to healthier choices—choice of the healthier snack in the first case or no snack in the second choice," the authors write. "However, the surprising result was that among who did not feel good about their weight (considered themselves overweight), those who planned were actually more likely to select the unhealthy in the first case or cookies in the second case."

This effect also held true when it came to financial planning. When they received a tax rebate, consumers who were confident in their savings were less likely to spend the rebate after planning than in the absence of planning. And people who were not confident in their spending were more likely to spend the rebate money after planning.

"Generally, people assume that planning will help for goal attainment," the authors write. "But this research suggests that having a positive self-view is just as important, if not more so."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: Claudia Townsend and Wendy Liu. "Is Planning Good For You? The Differential Impact of Planning on Self Regulation." Journal of Consumer Research: August 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Does seeing overweight people make us eat more?

Apr 19, 2011

Consumers will choose and eat more indulgent food after they see someone who is overweight—unless they consciously think about their health goals, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

18 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dietfoods4weightloss
not rated yet Mar 16, 2012
I agree Positive Self-View is important when sticking to your diet plan but the Prize of a Healthier and Fitter you at the end of a Diet Plan is also enough Motivation for a person currently not feeling great about his weight to stick to the planned diet.

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...