Study Reveals New Meaning Behind the Term "Guilty-Pleasure"

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choco.jpgI found this study on this morning and instantly related to the topic. Every women who has tried a diet, understands how good treats taste when you are supposed to be dieting. Is there any actual psychological or physical response or is it all in our heads? Researchers have found an association between guilt and pleasure.


The results of a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research suggest that the more guilt you feel, the more pleasure you may experience from consuming a delicious (and forbidden) treat.

Lead researcher Kelly Goldsmith and her team conducted a series of six studies. The researchers attempted to manipulate participants' taste perception by manipulating the type of guilt people associate with eating certain foods.

In Study One, 103 participants were randomly assigned to 2 groups. The control group looked at 6 magazine covers unrelated to health and wrote about their photography. The variable group examined 6 health-related magazine covers and wrote about their popularity. Then both groups ate a candy bar and rate how tasty the treat was. The group variable group that felt guilty, reported linking the chocolate significantly more than the group that was not thinking about health.

The other 5 studies were similar but used different methods to associate guilt such as a word scramble, a writing prompt, and entertaining videos. All studies revealed a connection between guilt and pleasure.


This study has high reliability because it was repeated six different times with six different groups of participants. The researchers used different methods to insure there weren't other variables effecting the results, thus giving the study high validity. In each study, the researchers had a control group to compare the results with. I would be interested to see the researchers expand this study to other relateable pleasures like smoking, drinking and sex. Also, what is the extent guilt plays in our everyday lives? Does it effect our consumer habits? This study is thought-provoking and makes me curious to know more.


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This page contains a single entry by wolfx450 published on December 5, 2012 1:25 PM.

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