Over consumption is a serious issue in the United States. National Institutes of Health statistics show that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, with associated direct economic medical
costs of $78.5 billion each year. About 70 million Americans are attempting to control their food intake.
Fortunately, if you feel like you're in a losing battle with a triple-chocolate cake, a "mental budget" may help, says a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
To conduct the research, the authors encouraged some participants to set mental budgets and compared them to people who did not set budgets, and examined their consumption of sweet treats.
They discovered several patterns. First, having a mental budget alone was not sufficient. Participants also needed to have an active goal of not wanting to consume sweets. Second, the information about the products needed to match the units of the mental budgets. Third,
mental budgets succeeded when consumers followed specific numerical recommendations.
works as a limit rather than a license for the consumption behavior. To do this, it is important to have an active goal of controlling the consumption."
"There are some behaviors that consumers try to limit but have trouble doing so," write authors Parthasarathy Krishnamurthy (University of Houston) and Sonja Prokopec (ESSEC Business School, France). "Even as one aims to curtail consumption of sugars and fat, one ends up consuming the tiramisu or the triple-chocolate cake. Such discrepancies between one's goals and actual behaviors represent instances of self-control failure."
Citation: Citation:Parthasarathy Krishnamurthy, Sonja Prokopec 'Beating back that triple-chocolate cake: Mental budgets as instruments of self-control', Journal of Consumer Research, 2009, DOI: 10.1086/649650