The power of the virtual ideal self in weight control: Weight-reduced avatars can enhance the tendency to delay gratification and regulate dietary practices

Hsu-Chan Kuo, Chun Chia Lee, Wen Bin Chiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The tendency to discount larger future benefits in favor of smaller immediate gains (i.e., temporal discounting) is relevant to the issue of obesity. Successful weight loss requires individuals to sacrifice immediate culinary pleasures in favor of future health gains. Based on the notion that increasing the vividness of one's future self may mitigate temporal discounting and promote the ability to delay gratification, we examined whether viewing one's weight-reduced self (i.e., the ideal self) in a virtual environment can decrease temporal discounting and lead to better regulation of dietary practices. Seventy-six undergraduates who had reported an intention to lose weight were recruited to participate in a laboratory experiment and were randomly assigned to interact with either the weight-reduced self (experimental condition) or the present self (control condition) by looking into a dressing mirror in a virtual fitting room. A temporal-discounting task and a taste test were subsequently administered. Results showed that, compared with control participants, participants who viewed their weight-reduced avatars ate less ice cream in a taste test and were more likely to choose a sugar-free drink as a reward. The discounting rate mediated the association between the avatar manipulation and the amount of ice cream eaten in the subsequent taste test. Overall, our findings suggest that a computer-generated image of one's weight-reduced self may assist in resisting impulses that promote immediate gratification over delayed benefits. This research provides a new approach for controlling impulsive behavior such as dietary regulation and weight control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-85
Number of pages6
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 1

Fingerprint

Weight control
Ego
Ice
Weights and Measures
Sugars
Ice Cream
Virtual reality
regulation
Mirrors
self-control
Health
laboratory experiment
manipulation
reward
Aptitude
Pleasure
Impulsive Behavior
Experiments
present
ability

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

Cite this

@article{3328a3efbcd942d2a37e93df89ac2874,
title = "The power of the virtual ideal self in weight control: Weight-reduced avatars can enhance the tendency to delay gratification and regulate dietary practices",
abstract = "The tendency to discount larger future benefits in favor of smaller immediate gains (i.e., temporal discounting) is relevant to the issue of obesity. Successful weight loss requires individuals to sacrifice immediate culinary pleasures in favor of future health gains. Based on the notion that increasing the vividness of one's future self may mitigate temporal discounting and promote the ability to delay gratification, we examined whether viewing one's weight-reduced self (i.e., the ideal self) in a virtual environment can decrease temporal discounting and lead to better regulation of dietary practices. Seventy-six undergraduates who had reported an intention to lose weight were recruited to participate in a laboratory experiment and were randomly assigned to interact with either the weight-reduced self (experimental condition) or the present self (control condition) by looking into a dressing mirror in a virtual fitting room. A temporal-discounting task and a taste test were subsequently administered. Results showed that, compared with control participants, participants who viewed their weight-reduced avatars ate less ice cream in a taste test and were more likely to choose a sugar-free drink as a reward. The discounting rate mediated the association between the avatar manipulation and the amount of ice cream eaten in the subsequent taste test. Overall, our findings suggest that a computer-generated image of one's weight-reduced self may assist in resisting impulses that promote immediate gratification over delayed benefits. This research provides a new approach for controlling impulsive behavior such as dietary regulation and weight control.",
author = "Hsu-Chan Kuo and Lee, {Chun Chia} and Chiou, {Wen Bin}",
year = "2016",
month = "2",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1089/cyber.2015.0203",
language = "English",
volume = "19",
pages = "80--85",
journal = "Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking",
issn = "2152-2715",
publisher = "Mary Ann Liebert Inc.",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The power of the virtual ideal self in weight control

T2 - Weight-reduced avatars can enhance the tendency to delay gratification and regulate dietary practices

AU - Kuo, Hsu-Chan

AU - Lee, Chun Chia

AU - Chiou, Wen Bin

PY - 2016/2/1

Y1 - 2016/2/1

N2 - The tendency to discount larger future benefits in favor of smaller immediate gains (i.e., temporal discounting) is relevant to the issue of obesity. Successful weight loss requires individuals to sacrifice immediate culinary pleasures in favor of future health gains. Based on the notion that increasing the vividness of one's future self may mitigate temporal discounting and promote the ability to delay gratification, we examined whether viewing one's weight-reduced self (i.e., the ideal self) in a virtual environment can decrease temporal discounting and lead to better regulation of dietary practices. Seventy-six undergraduates who had reported an intention to lose weight were recruited to participate in a laboratory experiment and were randomly assigned to interact with either the weight-reduced self (experimental condition) or the present self (control condition) by looking into a dressing mirror in a virtual fitting room. A temporal-discounting task and a taste test were subsequently administered. Results showed that, compared with control participants, participants who viewed their weight-reduced avatars ate less ice cream in a taste test and were more likely to choose a sugar-free drink as a reward. The discounting rate mediated the association between the avatar manipulation and the amount of ice cream eaten in the subsequent taste test. Overall, our findings suggest that a computer-generated image of one's weight-reduced self may assist in resisting impulses that promote immediate gratification over delayed benefits. This research provides a new approach for controlling impulsive behavior such as dietary regulation and weight control.

AB - The tendency to discount larger future benefits in favor of smaller immediate gains (i.e., temporal discounting) is relevant to the issue of obesity. Successful weight loss requires individuals to sacrifice immediate culinary pleasures in favor of future health gains. Based on the notion that increasing the vividness of one's future self may mitigate temporal discounting and promote the ability to delay gratification, we examined whether viewing one's weight-reduced self (i.e., the ideal self) in a virtual environment can decrease temporal discounting and lead to better regulation of dietary practices. Seventy-six undergraduates who had reported an intention to lose weight were recruited to participate in a laboratory experiment and were randomly assigned to interact with either the weight-reduced self (experimental condition) or the present self (control condition) by looking into a dressing mirror in a virtual fitting room. A temporal-discounting task and a taste test were subsequently administered. Results showed that, compared with control participants, participants who viewed their weight-reduced avatars ate less ice cream in a taste test and were more likely to choose a sugar-free drink as a reward. The discounting rate mediated the association between the avatar manipulation and the amount of ice cream eaten in the subsequent taste test. Overall, our findings suggest that a computer-generated image of one's weight-reduced self may assist in resisting impulses that promote immediate gratification over delayed benefits. This research provides a new approach for controlling impulsive behavior such as dietary regulation and weight control.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84959093744&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84959093744&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1089/cyber.2015.0203

DO - 10.1089/cyber.2015.0203

M3 - Article

C2 - 26544532

AN - SCOPUS:84959093744

VL - 19

SP - 80

EP - 85

JO - Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking

JF - Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking

SN - 2152-2715

IS - 2

ER -