You’ll thank me.
Normally, people do not enjoy being forced to do something. People also do not enjoy the guilt that comes with doing something that is bad for them. Surprisingly, these two wrongs seem to make a right: when people are compelled to engage in vices, they feel better than when they freely choose the vice for themselves. According to a new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, persuading a friend to share a dessert removes the burden of choice from them, reducing their feelings of guilt and making them less conflicted about the decision.
Vices—junk food, movie marathons, celebrity gossip news, procrastination—have adverse consequences. Choosing them is ‘bad’ and results in guilt that we don’t get from virtuous activities such as exercise, working on a passion project, or reading high-quality media. “It has long been believed that yielding to vices…is bad,” write the researchers. “While not disagreeing with this picture, the current research presents the observation that a negative view of vices does not quite tell the full story.”
The researchers suggest that the guilt of choosing vices weighs us down, reducing our sense of ‘subjective vitality.’ Vitality, a term used to describe the feeling of being energized, has been linked to mental and physical wellbeing, improved task performance, tenacity, and self-control. It is not quite the same thing as happiness, which is a related but conceptually different experience.
Read the full piece.