Science says measure out your indulgences

July 10th, 2012 by Rosa

A recent Op-Ed in the NY Times encourages people to stop overindulging. In addition to making you feel sick, overindulgence can also make you less satisfied with what you have (even when you have more). They give an example of how chocolate proves their point:

In a recent study conducted by our student Jordi Quoidbach, chocolate lovers ate a piece of this confection — and then pledged to abstain from chocolate for one week. Another group pledged to eat as much chocolate as they comfortably could and were even given a mammoth two-pound bag of chocolate to help them meet this “goal.”

If you love chocolate, you might think that the students who absconded with the chocolaty loot had it made. But they paid a price. When they returned the next week for another chocolate tasting, they enjoyed that chocolate much less than they had the week before. The only people who enjoyed the chocolate as much the second week as they had the first? Those who had given it up in between. Underindulging — temporarily giving up chocolate, even when we have the cash to buy all we want — can renew our enjoyment of the things we love.

I try to do all my candy tasting (and photographing) all at once on the weekends. I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t spread my candy eating across the week!

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4 responses about “Science says measure out your indulgences”

  1. yulaffin said:

    I eat chocolate every day but I don’t gorge on it – a couple of squares of dark chocolate is enough. I love chocolate!

  2. Rodzilla said:

    This is only a criticism of the study, but I think most would expect those results.

    I would like to see them build on it. Sure, temporary restriction may heighten the enjoyment when it returns, but does too much restriction lead to over-indulgences? I bet it does.

  3. Rosa said:

    @Rodzilla, I’d agree that the results themselves aren’t surprising, BUT if you asked people which would they prefer, all the chocolate you can eat + a 2 lb bag for free or a week without chocolate, I think most people would pick the former without thinking that it could spoil their future enjoyment.

    It would also be interesting if they could somehow sum the collective enjoyment of the people who ate lots of chocolate over the course of the week and compare that to the drop in enjoyment at the week-later follow-up. I think daily chocolate may win out then.

  4. Rodzilla said:

    I think I’m going to be disappointed if your dissertation isn’t somehow related to candy.