Being Virtuous can make you Fat

walking_with_shopping_bags_1600_wht_5497Researchers at Harvard and Duke Universities have found that using re-usable bags for your supermarket shopping can influence your shopping behaviour.

People with re-usable bags were not only more likely to buy organic food but also to stock up on junk food.

Grocery store shoppers who bring their own bag are more likely to purchase organic produce and other healthy foods. But those same shoppers often feel virtuous because they are acting in an environmentally responsible way. That feeling can easily persuade them that they should treat themselves to cookies or potato chips” said the authors of the study.

They examined loyalty cardholder data from which they could see when the shoppers had used their own bags. They were more likely to buy junk food on those occasions.

This is not the only example of when people reward themselves for virtuous behaviour. A recent study of people exercising while on a diet showed that they rewarded themselves by binge eating. It seems as if we have a rewards balance sheet where we allow ourselves an unhealthy but enjoyable treat when we have done something good.

I look forward to further research in this field. Would helping an old lady to cross the road or giving to charity make you pop into the fast food shop next door?

The Travails of a Male Shopper………………

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Every week I go to the supermarket to stock up with food for the coming week.


I carefully select my food and then head for the checkout where, if I am lucky there may only be two or three people in the queue

I stand patiently whilst people are served and then the “red mist” descends over me as I watch the woman being served pack all her groceries and then decide to look for her purse so that she can pay.

This requires an operation of such magnitude that it puts the D Day planners to shame, she will invariably carry a massive handbag and then spend God knows how long looking through the different pockets in the bag trying to track down her purse.

queues_0This in itself is a major exercise as the bag will have numerous zipped pockets but she will be convinced that she knows which…

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Hey Big Xmas Spender

Mike the Psych's Blog

Xmas is a stressful time of year not least because of what we spend, or feel we have to spend, on presents.

Times are hard and some families will limit gifts to close family or children.

Of course that doesn’t help if there is a tradition at work of buying colleagues gifts, although a Secret Santa with an agreed maximum spend is one way of limiting expenditure.

Several years ago Rosie Kinchen in the Sunday Times wrote about researchers who were trying to better understand shopping behaviours. A neuro-economist at New York University was using marshmallow type experiments about delayed gratification whilst using functional MRI machines to measure brain activity.

His results showed that different parts of the brain are active for those people who can’t wait compared with those who can.

So some people have “spender” brains and others don’t.

Does that mean you can’t do anything…

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