Dr Geoff Lowe from the University of Hull has told the British Psychological Society that people who feel bad about activities such as eating chocolate, lazing in front of the television, or going shopping are more likely to have weaker immune systems. This could make them more susceptible to disease.Those on the other hand who feel little or no guilt are better able to fight off infection.
Researchers asked 30 students aged 18-30 to list enjoyable activities such as eating, drinking, smoking and sex, and to rate each one for the amount of pleasure and guilt it gave.
The results of these responses were used to develop a pleasure-guilt ratio for each student.To test immune systems, students gave a saliva sample to determine their levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA). This substance is used as an indicator of the health of the body's immune system.
The students rated sex 8.9 out of 10 for pleasure and just 1.6 for guilt; eating scored 9 for pleasure and 6 for guilt; drinking and watching television both scored 7 for pleasure and 5 for guilt.According to Dr Lowe, those students who felt the most guilt and least pleasure had the lowest levels of IgA. Dr Lowe said the results suggested that: "people who report high pleasure and low guilt have enhanced immune system function. Such observations provide empirical support for the increasingly-held notion that pleasures are good and guilt is bad for health."