Reward Substitution And Your Diet

People suck at sticking to their diets.

Dan Ariely is a behavioral psychologist who’s done a lot of research on cognitive bias and how framing effects influence our decisions. Here’s an excerpt about how he motivated himself to rehabilitate from Hepatitis C:

Host Dan Ariely headlined the evening with his talk on reward substitution and self contracts.  After an accident that left him severely burned, Ariely contracted Hepatitis C, a virus that can cause cirrhosis of the liver though a blood transfusion.  Dan chose to go through a procedure, experimental at the time, to eliminate the virus, that required him to inject himself frequently with a toxic chemical over the course of a year and a half.  He devised a system whereby he was rewarded for each injection with a movie that he very much wanted to see: connecting the reward with the action rather than the side effects.

I wrote previously about how ego and short-term rewards are more successful motivators for long-term change than trying to “become a better you.” If you want to lose weight it’s better to think about what you want to look like in a bathing suit than your path to self-actualization. 

Consider this more ammo for my point. 

However, I’m not sure the next excerpt about the benefits of cheating:

 As he presented material from his new book “Get Rich Cheating” he sold the crowd on the evils of cheaters and the myriad examples of their success in present day culture. This message was delivered tongue-in-cheek, but as Dan Ariely’s research has shown, humans are prone to cheating for various reasons.  Kreisler shows that cheaters can win, at least in the market.

I don’t think the above statement applies to health and fitness :).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s