Hopeful Consumers Choose Fruit, Happy Consumers Choose Candy BarsFriday, February 17, 2012
Positive feelings focused on the future lead to better food choices, according to recent Penn State University research. Although previous research found that negative emotions often lead to poor food choices, positive emotions do not always result in good food choices. The researchers attempted to identify the kinds of feelings that led to unhealthful food choices, and found that feelings rooted in the past or present, such as pride and happiness, may lead to less healthy choices than feelings rooted in the future, such as hope. In four studies, hopeful participants who were focused on the future tended to make better food choices than happy participants who were focused on the past or present. In one study, hopeful participants ate fewer M&M’s than happy participants did. In another study, participants who were focused on the past, even if they reported feeling hopeful, chose unhealthy snacks. In a third study, participants experiencing feelings of pride because they were anticipating receiving a reward in the future for an achievement made healthier choices than participants who were feeling proud of a current achievement did. In the fourth study, the researchers looked at anticipating negative emotions such as fear or shame in the future, and found that only positive emotions focused on the future led to healthier food choices. "The next time you`re feeling well, don`t focus too much on all the good things in the past," the researchers say. "Instead, keep that positive glow and focus on your future, especially all the good things you imagine to come."