Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Optimism Isn't Always Healthy

Date:
December 7, 2007
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
People are generally optimistic, believing they'll do better in the future than they've done in the past. This time around, I'll actually use that gym membership. I'm sticking to the diet this time. Now is the time to start saving for a down payment on a house. However, a new study reveals that this "optimism bias" can lead us to make immediate choices that go against our long-term goals.

People are generally optimistic, believing they'll do better in the future than they've done in the past. This time around, I'll actually use that gym membership. I'm sticking to the diet this time. Now is the time to start saving for a down payment on a house. However, a new study reveals that this "optimism bias" can lead us to make immediate choices that go against our long-term goals.

Related Articles


Ying Zhang, Ayelet Fishbach (both of the University of Chicago), and Ravi Dhar (Yale University) identify how different mindsets work in conjunction with an optimistic attitude. They found that when people think about the goal in terms of progress, they are more likely to make a detrimental decision -- such as eating an unhealthy snack. However, when people focus on commitment to a goal, they are more likely to choose an action consistent with its attainment.

"For example, when [a] workout is framed as progress toward the goal of being healthy, going to the gym elicits the perception of partial goal attainment and suggests that it is justified to enjoy a tasty but fatty cake," the researchers explain. "In contrast, when [a] workout is framed as commitment to the goal of being healthy, going to the gym signals being healthy is important and thus suggests that one should refrain from the tasty but fatty cake to ensure the final goal can be attained."

In the first study, the researchers asked one group of participants to indicate how often they went to the gym last year. Another group was asked to predict how often they expected to go to the gym next year -- a yet-to-be-achieved goal. Those who were asked to think about exercise as a future endeavor were more likely to take a bottle of spring water over a can of sugared soda than those who were asked to think about the exercise they had already completed.

Similarly, in another experiment, participants were asked to visualize and write about either the process or completion of a gym workout session, a manipulation of the optimism bias. Then, participants were asked to estimate the duration of their next workout and to complete a survey that measured their interest in healthy foods.

"Relatively little is understood about how thinking optimistically about future goal pursuit can impact the immediate decision to pursue the ongoing goal, and what the direction of the impact would be," the researchers write. "Accordingly, this research suggests that marketers should consider not only the tradeoffs among the alternatives when making a choice, but also the relationship of this choice to past or future choices."

Ying Zhang, Ayelet Fishbach, and Ravi Dhar, "When Thinking Beats Doing: The Role of Optimistic Expectations in Goal-Based Choice." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2007.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Optimism Isn't Always Healthy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204133733.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2007, December 7). Optimism Isn't Always Healthy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204133733.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Optimism Isn't Always Healthy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071204133733.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins