Does prohibiting something make us more likely to do it?


Via Brain Candy: Science, Paradoxes, Puzzles, Logic, and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons:

Imagine you’re sitting in front of a pan of brownies. They’re fresh. You’re hungry. You’re also on a diet, making these brownies strictly off-limits.

Do you eat the brownies?

It turns out that specifically because the brownies are off-limits, you’re more likely to eat them. Researchers in Belgium demonstrated this by presenting subjects with an unhealthy snack and telling half the people not to eat it.

You can guess what happened.

Yep, those forbidden to eat the snack ate it more often. Researchers hypothesized that it’s easier to break rules that seem artificially imposed than it is to break your own rules. (Perhaps if only the owner of a certain garden hadn’t forbid a certain apple we’d all be sitting around naked sipping milk and honey.)

And so, paradoxically, being on a diet may make it more difficult to control your eating.

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