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Don't Tell Your New Year's Resolution: Wait to be Asked

First Posted: Jan 02, 2016 01:22 PM EST
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Do you have a New Year's resolution? You may not want to tell others what it is; instead, wait to be asked. Scientists have found that those who are asked about their New Year's resolution are more likely to follow through with it.

In this latest study, the researchers took a comprehensive look at more than 100 studies examining the "question-behavior" effect. This effect occurs when people ask other people about performing a certain behavior; this, in turn, influences whether they do it in the future.

"If you question a person about performing a future behavior, the likelihood of that behavior happening will change," said Dave Sprott, one of the researchers, in a news release.

For example, if you ask a person "Will you recycle?" it can cause a psychological response that can influence their behavior when they get a chance to recycle. The question reminds them that recycling is good for the environment, but may also make them feel uncomfortable if they are not recycling.

"We found the effect is strongest when questions are used to encourage behavior with personal and socially accepted norms, such as eating healthy foods or volunteering," said Eric r. Spangenberg, first author of the new study. "But it can be used effectively to even influence consumer purchases, such as a new computer."

With that said, the technique will be less impactful on habits or behaviors that consumers have done a lot. In addition, those who were asked about vices later did them more than a control group.

The findings reveal the power of questions to change behavior. This, in turn, is important when considering how best to influence a person's behavior-and possibly how to keep a New Year's resolution.

The findings are published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

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