This series of studies examined the effect of temptation strength on self-regulation processes in the context of eating behavior. Based on the critical level model, it was hypothesized that weak, rather than strong, temptations yield the most unfavorable conditions for effective self-regulation, because the negative consequences of the former are underestimated. In line with the assumptions of this model, Studies 1 and 2 showed that weak temptations inhibited the mental accessibility of the weight watching goal, in contrast to strong temptations. Study 3 showed that exposure to weak temptations lead to higher consumption in comparison to exposure to strong temptations. It is concluded that weak temptations, as compared to strong temptations, have an inhibiting effect on self-regulation processes and may therefore form a bigger threat for long-term goal attainment.
Source: “Tricky treats: Paradoxical effects of temptation strength on self-regulation processes” from European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 41, Issue 3, pages 281–288, April 2011
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