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A wingman can help when trying to resist sweet holiday treats

by Dec. 10, 2014, 1:22 PM

holiday cookies
(iStock)

Your companion at this year’s holiday parties can be a big influence on how well you’ll resist the tables full of fattening treats.

In experiments staged by researchers from Vanderbilt University and Texas A&M, friends tended to either conspire to together enjoy a small indulgence or conversely resist temptation when the stakes were higher.

The research team staged a series of experiments that paired consumers against different temptations and gauged how closely their reactions mirrored each other, and how they felt about each other afterward.

In a study that tracked how many pieces of candy test subjects consumed during a short film, most duos ate about the same amount.

“We find evidence of a general tendency for peers to ultimately match behaviors when facing a mutual temptation,” write Kelly L. Haws of Vanderbilt University and Michael L. Lowe of Texas A&M University in the August issue of Journal of Consumer Research in their article “(Im)moral Support: The Social Outcomes of Parallel Self-Control Decisions.”

Further, test subjects who ate a small amount of candy each later reported liking their partner more than when the study began. But participants who said they ate too much candy reported liking their partner less than when the study began.

So while you’re browsing the buffet with that special someone, remember you’ll come out of the experience liking each other more if you each indulge just a little bit.

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