Feeling Sad, Indulge Less?

WHEN PEOPLE ARE sad, the negative emotion might deter them from eating unhealthy foods, according to a study.
Feeling Sad, Indulge Less?

A study by Anthony Salerno, a doctoral candidate, and Juliano Laran, an associate professor of marketing, both of the University of Miami School of Business in Florida; and Chris Janiszewski, a professor at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration in Gainesville.

In five experiments, researchers exposed participants to advertisements that included either indulgent words or images (of pizza or chocolate cake, for example) or neutral words or images (of washing machines or electric cars). They then asked participants to write about something that made them feel sad. Then, at the end of the study, they were offered indulgent foods like M&Ms or chocolate chip cookies.

The researchers found that those who were exposed to the indulgent advertisements and then asked to recall a sad topic consumed less of the post-experiment treats; they also were more likely to link those treats to future health problems. Those exposed to neutral information before writing about a sad topic ate more.

Highlighted the negative consequences of indulging and encouraged them to indulge less. This research can help better people’s understanding of “the link between advertisements and their emotional state and how this impacts their eating behavior,” says Laren. “For marketers of products encouraging a healthy lifestyle, this work offers more data regarding [influences] that help or hinder one’s ability to eat healthy.”

“Sadness and Its Context-Dependent Influence on Indulgent Consumption” was slated to appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.