Some types of arousal can lead to unhealthy choices

June 21, 2010

You might want to avoid food shopping right after a heavy workout or drinking after an intense day of high-powered negotiations, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"While happy people make better and healthier choices, this is dependent on the intensity of the positive feelings experienced. In other words, the level of arousal accompanying the positive mood state can interfere with the beneficial effect of positive mood on resistance to temptation," write authors Alexander Fedorikhin (Indiana University) and Vanessa M. Patrick (University of Houston).

In three studies, the authors found that arousal interfered with the effects of positive mood to influence resistance to tempting food. In one study, the authors asked some participants to watch a positive but calm movie clip while another set of participants watched a positive but arousing movie clip. All participants were then asked to choose between two snacks: a cup of grapes and a cup of M&Ms.

"The results showed that those participants who watched the arousing movie clip were more likely to choose M&Ms than those who watched the calm clip. Moreover, when participants who watched the calm movie clip would choose M&Ms, they were more likely to carefully regulate or monitor the amount of M&Ms they ate," the authors write.

In another study, the researchers added exercise to the mix. Participants who watched the calm movie and performed a light exercise on a stepstool were more likely to choose M&Ms than those who were sedentary.

The authors also proposed that a shortage of mental energy leads to less-healthy choices. To test this theory, the researchers had some people in each group remember a 7-digit number and assigned others a 2-digit number. The people with the larger number were more likely to choose M&Ms.

"In order to resist temptations and make choices that are healthy and have longterm benefits, a person needs to be both in a positive frame of mind and have the available mental energy needed to make good choices," the authors conclude.
-end-
Alexander Fedorikhin and Vanessa M. Patrick. "Positive Mood and Resistance to Temptation: The Interfering Influence of Elevated Arousal." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2010. A preprint of this article (to be officially published online soon) can be found at http://journals.uchicago.edu/jcr).

University of Chicago Press Journals

Related Drinking Articles from Brightsurf:

The dangers of collecting drinking water
Fetching drinking water in low and middle income countries can cause serious injury, particularly for women.

Light drinking may protect brain function
Light to moderate drinking may preserve brain function in older age, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

Even 'low-risk' drinking can be harmful
It's not just heavy drinking that's a problem -- even consuming alcohol within weekly low-risk drinking guidelines can result in hospitalization and death, according to a new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Alcohol marketing and underage drinking
A new study by a research team including scientists from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation provides a systematic review of research that examines relationships between exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol use behaviors among adolescents and young adults.

Which came first: Brain size or drinking propensity?
Contrary to the belief that drinking can literally shrink one's brain, a new study that includes researchers from Arts & Sciences suggests that a small brain might be a risk factor for heavier alcohol consumption.

Frequent drinking is greater risk factor for heart rhythm disorder than binge drinking
Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, according to research published today in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Binge drinking may be more damaging to women
In a recently published study examining the effects of binge drinking on rats, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine discovered that female rats who were of equal age and weight to male rats were more sensitive to alcohol and experienced alcoholic liver injury at a higher rate than male rats.

What predicts college students' drinking habits? How much they think others are drinking
A new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University examined students' genetic risk of alcohol use, roommates' drinking habits and the perception of peer drinking.

Drinking diplomacy
Using newly discovered archival materials, Igor Fedyukin of the Higher School of Economics, in collaboration with Robert Collis (Drake University) and Ernest A.

College drinking intervention strategies need a refresh
Peer approval is the best indicator of the tendency for new college students to drink or smoke according to new research from Michigan State University.

Read More: Drinking News and Drinking Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.