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Differential Construal of Exercise versus Diet and Implications for Weight Control

Erica Mina Okada, Gita V JoharEditor, Amna KirmaniEditor and Jaideep SenguptaAssociate Editor

Journal of Consumer Research, 2019, vol. 46, issue 3, 528-544

Abstract: Successful weight control is a challenge for many consumers, but in principle, it is a simple arithmetic combination of increasing caloric expenditure and/or decreasing caloric intake. We call the former “exercise” and the latter “diet.” A field survey, three behavioral lab experiments, and a national weight loss field study show that (1) people tend to construe exercise at higher levels and diet at lower levels, (2) activating people’s focus on the high-level purposes versus low-level processes of their behavior may improve the odds of weight control success by exercise and diet, respectively, and (3) people who effectuated exercise plans that were high in desirability in terms of bringing about greater net caloric cuts, and diet plans that were high in feasibility in terms of ease of compliance, had the greatest weight reduction over a three-month period. Understanding the theory of how contrasting mental models underlie exercise versus diet may help consumers control their weight with more success, and marketers position their weight control products and services more effectively.

Keywords: exercise; diet; weight control; construal level; gain/loss focus (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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