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December 26, 2021

How to handle those Christmas treats

Your ability to resist all that Christmas baking depends on how a big a threat you perceive it to be, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Looked at techniques that enable us resist food and other holiday temptations, researchers at the University of Texas found that the best way to resist all those cookies was to make a mountain out of a molehill. 

“When consumers encounter temptations that conflict with their long-term goals, one self-control mechanism is to exaggerate the negativity of the temptation as a way to resist, a process we call counteractive construal,” the researchers say.

For example, in one study, a group of women were asked to estimate the calories in a cookie. Half were told that they could receive the cookie as a complimentary gift for participating and half were not.

Regardless of whether they actually planned on eating it, the results showed that those who regularly watched their diet construed the cookie as having more calories and being more damaging to the attainment of their long-term goal of losing weight.

Just as those who are good with money learn how not to overspend during the holidays, the researchers found that students with a high grade-point average were more likely than other participants to determine that upcoming holiday parties would last longer and end badly, regardless of the typical experience on campus.

As a result, most stayed away and reaped the rewards.

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...