When facing temptation, can a simple change of language make a difference? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers who respond to temptation with the words “I don’t” versus “I can’t” are more able to resist.
“This insight is based on the notion that saying “I can’t” to temptation inherently signals deprivation and the loss from giving up something desirable,” the authors write. “For instance, when faced with a tempting slice of pumpkin pie, one’s spontaneous response, ‘I can’t eat pumpkin pie’ signals deprivation. Saying ‘I don’t eat pumpkin pie’ is more effective.” This approach signals to oneself (and others) a sense of determination and empowerment, which makes the refusal strategy more effective.
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