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When Planning Backfires

August 9, 2012

Planning a major lifestyle change can be a good idea, but only if you feel good about yourself to begin with.



When planning backfires. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When you’re trying to make a change in your life, like lose weight or save money, the key to success is a good plan, right? Not necessarily, according to consumer psychologists Wendy Liu of the University of San Diego and Claudia Townsend of the University of Miami. They had one group of people plan out their meals for the day, but a second group didn’t do any planning. Afterwards, they were offered a choice of snacks. Townsend says the people who planned their meals were more likely to choose a low-calorie snack over a high-calorie one, but only if they felt good about their bodies to begin with. In contrast, those who didn’t plan picked the lower-calorie snack regardless of how they felt about their bodies.

CLAUDIA TOWNSEND (University of Miami):

If you generally feel like you’re out of shape, if you feel like you’ve got a long way to go before achieving your goal, it can be distressing to see how much work is needed.


She says this could be one reason so many people give up on lifestyle changes. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science.

Planning to make a lifestyle change such as working out regularly, can backfire if you don't feel good about yourself already. (Jupiter Images)