Communicating eating-related rules : Suggestions are more effective than restrictions

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2015
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de Vet, Emely
de Witt, John B.F.
de Ridder, Denise T.D.
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Appetite. 2015, 86, pp. 45-53. ISSN 0195-6663. eISSN 1095-8304. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.010
Zusammenfassung

Background
A common social influence technique for curbing unhealthy eating behavior is to communicate eating-related rules (e.g. ‘you should not eat unhealthy food’). Previous research has shown that such restrictive rules sometimes backfire and actually increase unhealthy consumption. In the current studies, we aimed to investigate if a milder form of social influence, a suggested rule, is more successful in curbing intake of unhealthy food. We also investigated how both types of rules affected psychological reactance.

Method
Students (N = 88 in Study 1, N = 51 in Study 2) completed a creativity task while a bowl of M&M's was within reach. Consumption was either explicitly forbidden (restrictive rule) or mildly discouraged (suggested rule). In the control condition, consumption was either explicitly allowed (Study 1) or M&M's were not provided (Study 2). Measures of reactance were assessed after the creativity task. Subsequently, a taste test was administered where all participants were allowed to consume M&M's.

Results
Across both studies, consumption during the creativity task did not differ between the restrictive- and suggested-rule-conditions, indicating that both are equally successful in preventing initial consumption. Restrictive-rule-condition participants reported higher reactance and consumed more in the free-eating taste-test phase than suggested-rule-condition participants and control-group participants, indicating a negative after-effect of restriction.

Discussion
Results show that there are more and less effective ways to communicate eating-related rules. A restrictive rule, as compared to a suggested rule, induced psychological reactance and led to greater unhealthy consumption when participants were allowed to eat freely. It is important to pay attention to the way in which eating-related rules are communicated.

Zusammenfassung in einer weiteren Sprache
Fachgebiet (DDC)
150 Psychologie
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Social influence, Suggestion, Restriction, Eating-related rules, Health communication
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ISO 690STOK, F. Marijn, Emely DE VET, John B.F. DE WITT, Britta RENNER, Denise T.D. DE RIDDER, 2015. Communicating eating-related rules : Suggestions are more effective than restrictions. In: Appetite. 2015, 86, pp. 45-53. ISSN 0195-6663. eISSN 1095-8304. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.010
BibTex
@article{Stok2015Commu-31154,
  year={2015},
  doi={10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.010},
  title={Communicating eating-related rules : Suggestions are more effective than restrictions},
  volume={86},
  issn={0195-6663},
  journal={Appetite},
  pages={45--53},
  author={Stok, F. Marijn and de Vet, Emely and de Witt, John B.F. and Renner, Britta and de Ridder, Denise T.D.}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Background&lt;br /&gt;A common social influence technique for curbing unhealthy eating behavior is to communicate eating-related rules (e.g. ‘you should not eat unhealthy food’). Previous research has shown that such restrictive rules sometimes backfire and actually increase unhealthy consumption. In the current studies, we aimed to investigate if a milder form of social influence, a suggested rule, is more successful in curbing intake of unhealthy food. We also investigated how both types of rules affected psychological reactance.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Method&lt;br /&gt;Students (N = 88 in Study 1, N = 51 in Study 2) completed a creativity task while a bowl of M&amp;M's was within reach. Consumption was either explicitly forbidden (restrictive rule) or mildly discouraged (suggested rule). In the control condition, consumption was either explicitly allowed (Study 1) or M&amp;M's were not provided (Study 2). Measures of reactance were assessed after the creativity task. Subsequently, a taste test was administered where all participants were allowed to consume M&amp;M's.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Results&lt;br /&gt;Across both studies, consumption during the creativity task did not differ between the restrictive- and suggested-rule-conditions, indicating that both are equally successful in preventing initial consumption. Restrictive-rule-condition participants reported higher reactance and consumed more in the free-eating taste-test phase than suggested-rule-condition participants and control-group participants, indicating a negative after-effect of restriction.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Discussion&lt;br /&gt;Results show that there are more and less effective ways to communicate eating-related rules. A restrictive rule, as compared to a suggested rule, induced psychological reactance and led to greater unhealthy consumption when participants were allowed to eat freely. It is important to pay attention to the way in which eating-related rules are communicated.</dcterms:abstract>
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