Mental contrasting of a dieting wish improves self-reported health behaviour

K. B. Johannessen, G. Oettingen, D. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mentally contrasting a desired future with present reality standing in its way promotes commitment to feasible goals, whereas mentally indulging in a desired future does not. Dieting students (N = 134) reported their most important dieting wish that they deemed attainable within a 2-week period. Then, they were directed to mentally contrast or indulge in thoughts and images about the named dieting wish. A control condition was given no directions. Two weeks after the experiment, dieters retrospectively rated their behaviour change: in the mental contrasting condition they reported having eaten relatively fewer calories overall, fewer high-calorie food and more low-calorie food compared to those in the indulging and control conditions, and they also reported having been more physically active. This transfer effect from one health domain to another suggests a more generalised effect of mental contrasting versus indulging and control than previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume27
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012

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Health Behavior
Food
Students
Health
Direction compound

Keywords

  • dieting
  • goal commitment
  • indulging
  • mental contrasting
  • physical exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

Mental contrasting of a dieting wish improves self-reported health behaviour. / Johannessen, K. B.; Oettingen, G.; Mayer, D.

In: Psychology and Health, Vol. 27, No. SUPPL. 2, 10.2012, p. 43-58.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Johannessen, K. B. ; Oettingen, G. ; Mayer, D. / Mental contrasting of a dieting wish improves self-reported health behaviour. In: Psychology and Health. 2012 ; Vol. 27, No. SUPPL. 2. pp. 43-58.
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