Successful Dieters Are Angry People

This article really struck me this morning. I have very little to add beyond- I’d love to see more research on this type of behavior and motivational techniques for this type of person. Enjoy this article taken from the National Counsel on Strength and Fitness.

Are Successful Dieters Angry People?

Psychological aspects such as the driving forces of personality and motivation can be major determining factors behind an individual’s adherence to an exercise or diet plan. Motivation for change as it relates to any health or fitness goal must be supplemented with a measure of self-control and discipline for success. Indeed, one of the major roles of a personal trainer is to serve as a driving motivational force for individuals who need extra guidance based on a lack of built-in drive. A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research sought to investigate the emotional and psychological connections among individuals who are able to exert significant self-control for adherence to challenges such as a strict dieting plan. “We set out to examine whether exerting self-control can indeed lead to a wide variety of angry behaviors and preferences subsequently, even in situations where such behaviors are quite subtle,” state authors David Gal and Wendy Liu. It appears that people who make an effort to exert self-control are indeed more prone to aggressive behavior and seem to be attracted to angry behaviors as well as antagonistic media or forms of entertainment. They also appear to deal poorly with messages that badger them to control their behavior. Research specifically shows that individuals with a greater degree of self-discipline (such as people on diets) behave more assertively toward other people and are known to be irritable and quick to anger. The researchers found that people with greater self-control were likely to prefer anger-themed movies, were more interested in examining angry facial expressions, were convinced to a greater degree by anger-framed appeals, and expressed greater irritation at messages that utilized controlling language to encourage them to change their exercise habits. A few study examples:

  •  People who choose an apple over a chocolate bar were prone to choose movies with anger and revenge themes rather than milder movies
  • Participants who displayed financial moderation by opting a gift certificate for groceries over one for a spa service showed greater interest in looking at angry faces than fearful ones
  •  Dieters had more favorable opinions toward a public policy message that used an anger-inducing appeal (e.g. if funds are not increased for police training, more criminals will escape prison) than they did toward a sad message

Personal trainers can use this study data to develop appropriate motivational methods that take into account the potential negative emotions associated with a disciplined personality. Instead of insistently encouraging these clients to exert more self-control in specific daily choices, improved outcomes might be provided with interventions and education that fosters positive behaviors toward long-term goals. (Journal of Consumer Research, March 2011)


About SuzieSloth

I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Martial Arts Instructor with a passion for physical fitness and a background in public health. I love learning new things about the fitness world and about innovations in all health fields. I like to share tidbits that I find in magazines or on the internet with friends and clients. Please feel free to email me with questions or comments, or leave comments on any post on my blog. And make sure to stop by my website: View all posts by SuzieSloth

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