Taking pride in an accomplishment can keep you on track or send you off the rails, has revealed a new study led by the University of Cincinnati. The study findings could hold possibilities ranging from investigating the nation's obesity epidemic to examining Americans' growing credit card debt.
Researchers found that when people took pride in an accomplishment and chalked that up to being disciplined and responsible, they were more likely to continue making disciplined choices through the day. But when people considered a self-control goal that they had before feeling proud they were more likely to think they had made good progress toward their goal. Therefore, they were more likely to indulge in a reward that veered from making disciplined choices.
Researcher Anthony Salerno said, "We found that when people did not have a self-control goal and were made to feel proud, they increased their level of self-control, becoming more likely to choose healthy snacks or to save money. When people had a self-control goal and were made to feel proud, they had less self-control, becoming more likely to select the indulgent snacks or to spend their money, because they thought of themselves as having already achieved their goal. The basic finding is that, for the most part, when people are made to feel proud, they're more likely to exercise restraint, such as choosing a salad or intending to save more than to spend, but if people first think about a healthy eating or savings goal and are proud of what they've accomplished so far, their behavior starts to become more hedonic."
The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research.