A new study has revealed that pride can keep you on track or send you off the rails.
The study led by the University of Cincinnati found that when people took pride in an accomplishment and chalked that up to being disciplined and responsible, they were more likely to continue making disciplined choices through the day.
But when people considered a self-control goal that they had before feeling proud – a goal such as eating healthy, working out or saving money – they were more likely to think they had made good progress toward their goal, and therefore were more likely to indulge in a reward that veered from making disciplined choices.
The findings could hold possibilities ranging from investigating the nation’s obesity epidemic to examining Americans’ growing credit card debt.
Researcher Anthony Salerno said that they found that when people did not have a self-control goal and were made to feel proud, they increased their level of self-control, becoming more likely to choose healthy snacks or to save money.
He added that when people had a self-control goal and were made to feel proud, they had less self-control, becoming more likely to select the indulgent snacks or to spend their money, because they thought of themselves as having already achieved their goal.
Salerno noted that the basic finding is that, for the most part, when people are made to feel proud, they’re more likely to exercise restraint, such as choosing a salad or intending to save more than to spend, but if people first think about a healthy eating or savings goal and are proud of what they’ve accomplished so far, their behavior starts to become more hedonic.
The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.