NEWS22 December 2009

Can people ‘trick’ themselves into liking something?

News North America

US— People may be able to ‘trick’ themselves into reducing aversion to things that they don’t like, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

In the study, to be published in the journal next year, Aparna Labroo of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Jesper Nielsen of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management say that whether people ‘approach’ or ‘avoid’ an activity influences whether or not they find the activity and its outcome rewarding or not. This means that behaviours that people enjoy, but know are bad for them, can still seem rewarding because we approach them positively.

The researchers tested what would happen if they asked participants to mentally approach various tasks in different ways. One test involved asking people to eat a can of curried grasshopper, with some of them briefed to imagine they were approaching it positively, others negatively, and others given no prompt.

“Merely simulating physical approach resulted in a more favourable evaluation of the product,” the authors found.

Labroo and Nielsen took inspiration from exposure therapies used by psychologists to treat phobias by asking people to mentually simulate approaching the object that they fear.

“One way to overcome aversions is to trick our minds,” they write. “These results suggest our aversions are derived in part from our bodily sensations, and the influence of these sensations may be more far reaching than one might have presumed.”


1 Comment

14 years ago

No they can't!

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