According to research recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, partaking of one little luxury, a truffle, was the difference in whether study participants were later able to resist other food items such as pizza, ice cream and potato chips. It’s as if eating the truffle formed a commitment in their minds to continue their indulgence. The study authors explained that one indulgence leads to another and by eating that truffle, they activated an “indulgence goal,” but participants who resisted the truffle activated a “health” goal in their subconscious.
“Consumers many times may perceive that a small act will be enough to stop cravings of fatty food items, but our research shows that small acts may lead people to unconsciously seek more indulgence.” Study authors Juliano Laran and Chris Janiszewski
Last night, after working all day and eating a late, pretty heavy lunch, I truly wasn’t hungry for supper. I arrived at my hotel around 7:30 PM, but instead of going to my room, I decided to drive around and explore the city a bit, ending up at a barbecue restaurant called Rudy’s. I told myself I was stopping because of the sign that advertised that this was also a country store, but after stepping into the building, I was captivated by the aroma of good barbecue, good TEXAS barbecue. I decided I was a little hungry and got in line to place an order. One of their workers noticed me scanning the menu and asked if I have visited before. When I told him, no, he yelled out to the pit boss, “Gimme some samples for my new customer here!” Don’t you just love Texas hospitality?
What was placed before me was brought down from angels in heaven, I’m convinced. I never knew brisket or smoked turkey breast or home-made creamed corn could taste that good. What happened next? I ordered some of each, took them back to my hotel room and ate way, way too much. Don’t ask me how much I ordered. I won’t tell you.
And so it is with the luxuries we allow ourselves to sample. Before long, we simply MUST have them. It doesn’t matter what they are; we will rationalize, we will claim that in “today’s society” these AREN’T luxuries but necessities, and we will allow ourselves to be hooked. Just like the large-mouth bass that must have that shiny, flashing thing scooting through the water, we bite and are reeled in.
But unlike the fish, we have the ability to say, “Wait a minute, I don’t want to live this way,” and we can wrest control of our lives away from our whims and away from the marketing gurus who really just want to separate us from our money. We have the ability to use the self discipline that is inside each one of us. When we resist the urge to splurge, we activate subconscious goals to better ourselves, to better our health, to better our finances, to make wise choices, and to live a better life without the encumbrance of “things.”
What’s YOUR truffle? What’s your luxury turned necessity? What things did you do without for 25 years that you now feel are vital parts of your existence? What steps can you take to reduce their influence on you?
Resisting activates goals just as indulgence activates goals. What goals are you activating in your life?