The study, forthcoming in the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that asking people questions, like how many times they expect to give in to a temptation they know they should resist, increases how many times they will actually give in to it.
"Research on attitude formation has increasingly recognized that attitudes can be comprised of separate negative and positive components which can result in attitude ambivalence," explain Gavin Fitzsimons (Duke University), Joseph C. Nunes (University of Southern California), and Patti Williams (University of Pennsylvania). "In the present research we focus on vice behaviors, those for which consumers are likely to hold both positive and negative attitudes. We demonstrate that asking consumers to report their expectations regarding how often they will perform a vice behavior increases the incidence of these behaviors."
Intention questions are generally perceived as harmless, and the researchers found that this may cause consumers to lower the guard they would otherwise have with more explicitly persuasive pitches, such as advertising. In a series of three experiments, they demonstrate that seemingly benign questioning may serve as a liberating influence that allows consumers to give in to their desires more often than they would have otherwise.
For example, the researchers asked a group of actual college students how often they intended to skip class in the following week. Another control group of students was asked how often they intended to floss. Over the course of a semester, the group that was asked how often they intended to miss class ended up with one more absence, on average, than the group that was not asked.
As the authors explain: "Despite very real negative repercussions, respondents to a question about their future class attendance engaged in the negative behavior (missing class) at a significantly greater rate than those not asked to predict their behavior."
The results were especially pronounced for those with chronically low self-control, and the researchers point out that their findings pose a public policy dilemma for survey researchers who ask questions about vice behaviors in order to gain insight and discourage them.
"Fortunately, we also document two moderators of the effect that can prevent intention questions from exacerbating indulgences in vices," the researchers write, "(a) having people explicitly consider strategies for how they might avoid the behavior, and (b) having people create a self-reward for sticking with their stated usage patterns."
Suzanne Wu | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Information Technology
05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences