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Trying To Lose Weight? Don’t Buy That Lottery Ticket

Not because winning could turn you into a literal fat cat: Research suggests that simply buying tickets leads to materialistic thoughts followed by diminished self-restraint in the here and now.

What’s the Latest Development?

A series of studies led by Johns Hopkins researcher Hyeong Min Kim revealed how the mere thought of receiving a monetary reward — either through a winning lottery ticket or an instant rebate — can negatively impact a person’s self-control. In one, participants were put into a cubicle with a bowl of M&Ms and asked to answer questions about their lottery habits and ability to recognize certain phrases such as “Rolex watch.” The participants who also received an instant lottery ticket with orders not to scratch it until the session ended tended to eat more candy and respond to the phrases more quickly.

What’s the Big Idea?

Kim writes that it’s important to understand what triggers materialistic thoughts because “[s]elf-control is perhaps one of the most important attributes that a person needs to succeed. Materialism has a negative impact…that is of concern to not only individuals, but also society.” For what it’s worth, he also notes that buying lottery tickets are just one of many different activities that lead to materialistic thoughts and a corresponding reduction in restraint. Still, writer Tom Jacobs recommends that people who choose to try their luck at this weekend’s big jackpots “go right home afterwards—and keep the computer off. Some of those online sales will probably look pretty enticing.”

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Read it at Pacific Standard


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