Motivation and chocolate cake

The more we anticipate public humiliation and guilt, the worse we’re likely to do when it comes to self-control. If we focus on the pride that comes from good behavior, we make better choices. By far.                   Deborah MacInnis, LA Times

This week I read an online article in the LA Times that was wonderful.  It was about research indicating that personal self esteem and healthy pride are much stronger motivators for self-control than being shamed into doing the “right thing.”

Three groups of people were put alone into a room with a large piece of chocolate cake.  One group received no instructions, another group was told to think how badly they would feel about themselves if they ate the cake, and the third group was instructed to think about how good they would feel about themselves if they refrained from eating the cake.  The instructions about feeling good about oneself was the clear winner.  Positive motivation works better than shame.

In other words, think about how good you’ll feel about eating well, about getting healthy exercise, and about saving some of your income in the bank.  Wow!  It can make a difference.  Get out there and enjoy feeling good.  You’ll love the results.

Here’s the original article .


Deborah MacInnis is the vice dean for research and strategy, and a professor of business administration and marketing at USC. Her coauthored studies on self-control and chocolate cake were published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and Advances in Consumer Research.  The article referred to here is at:
This entry was posted in General, Humor, Optimal Living, Self Esteem. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Motivation and chocolate cake

  1. motivational youth speaker says:

    it is amazing how certain types of motivation produces great results

  2. It’s a bit like an article I wrote about intrinsic motivation; we’re much more effectively motivated by our enjoyment of a task than by a carrot and a stick.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, David. As the Wisefool (my alter ego) would put it, “The only purpose of shame and guilt is, you guessed it, more shame and guilt.” I think it’s about time we stopped shaming ourselves in America in order to eat well.

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