Impulsive eater? Remembering failures may help curb eating

Sep 15, 2008

Remember when you pigged out on birthday cake? If you're an impulsive eater, that memory might help you choose a fruit salad next time around.

When it comes to tempting or fattening foods, some people are a lot more impulsive than others. And according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, impulsive people think and act differently than non-impulsive people after they remember a time when they resisted or succumbed to temptation.

Authors Anirban Mukhopadhyay (University of Michigan), Jaideep Sengupta (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), and Suresh Ramanathan (University of Chicago) assessed the impulsivity of participants in four related studies. They had participants recall instances where they gave in to temptation or resisted it. In addition to making hypothetical food choices, participants also had opportunities to eat cookies or cheeseballs—without knowing their consumption was being tracked. In the case of impulsive people, "…thinking about failure may actually beget success," write the authors.

"We propose and find that chronically non-impulsive individuals display behavior consistency over time—resisting when they recall having resisted earlier. In contrast, impulsive individuals show a switching pattern, resisting current temptations if they recall having succumbed, and vice versa," write the authors.

"So what is it that makes people succumb to temptation, time after sinful time? We suggest that the likelihood of a repeat act of indulgence depends on what people recall doing the previous time they were faced with a similar choice," the authors write. "In general, chronically impulsive people are more likely to feel this conflict between the two forces—of giving in and holding back, while those who tend to be less impulsive are also less likely to experience such a struggle."

The results of this study suggest ways to improve the health of both impulsive and non-impulsive consumers. Both groups did a better job of resisting temptation when they recalled past instances of resisting temptation along with their reasons for resisting.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Physicist creates ice cream that changes colors as it's licked

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Engineering an affordable exoskeleton

Jun 12, 2014

When soccer's World Cup—the most-watched sports event on Earth—kicks off June 12, Berkeley professor Homayoon Kazerooni and his research assistants won't be watching the players. They'll be staring at ...

Solar plane takes off on last flight of US journey

Jul 06, 2013

The experimental Solar Impulse aircraft was bound Saturday for New York, where it was to fly over the Statue of Liberty on the final leg of a US tour aimed at showcasing the promise of clean energy.

Smart pens to help control hand tremors

Jan 03, 2013

(Phys.org)—Approx­i­mately 12 mil­lion people in the U.S. are affected by uncon­trolled tremors as a result of neu­ro­log­ical dis­or­ders such as Parkinson's dis­ease. From but­toning a shirt ...

Russia celebrates Gagarin's conquest of space

Apr 12, 2011

Russia on Tuesday marked a half century since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, the greatest victory of Soviet science which expanded human horizons and still remembered by Russians as their finest ...

Recommended for you

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds (w/ Video)

14 hours ago

A new study involving scientists from the University of Southampton has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, ...

Congressional rift over environment influences public

17 hours ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Rural loss and ruin can be avoided

20 hours ago

An Australian Reconstruction Development Board needs to be established to help avoid more needless forcing of Australian farmers from their land, a QUT economist has said.

User comments : 0