Fear Is Stronger Than Hope When It Comes To Fitness
looking unattractive can be a stronger motivation for keeping people
going to the gym than the hope of looking good, a study says.
at the University of Bath, UK, interviewed 281 male and female
undergraduates and got half to imagine a physically unattractive
version of themselves they feared they might turn into.
asked this group to either imagine a scenario in which they
dramatically failed to keep to a fitness programme or one in which they
researchers found that those who had been asked to think about a
dramatic failure to keep to the programme were motivated to keep on
training because they were fearful of not looking good.
were asked to imagine they were succeeding in getting fit became less
motivated to continue at the gym because they no longer had this fear
of not looking good.
reveal why marketing works or doesn’t work for some products like
gyms to get a better body or cosmetics to reduce wrinkles. The study
shows that fear of failure motivates people more than gaining some
success, which demotivates them. This fear of failure is particularly
strong when people feel they can already see signs of the feared self
they are striving to avoid.
consumers see themselves in the future has a strong effect on how
motivated they are to keep using a product or service," said Professor
Brett Martin, of the University of Bath’s Schoolof Management,
who carried out the study with Dr. Rana Sobh of Qatar University.
dwell on a negative future, fear motivates them, yet as they move away
from their feared state – a flabby body, or a wrinkled skin
– they become less motivated.
point, marketers should take advantage of another insight of our study
– that of motivating people with a more positive outlook."
Martin found that among those who were asked to think positively about
their bodies –the other half of the 281 surveyed - being
successful in keeping to the fitness programme made them even keener to
keep going to the gym. Failing to keep to the programme demotivated
moves away from their "feared self" – in this case an
unattractive body - because they are successful in the gym, they lose
motivation, so highlighting thoughts of being unattractive is unlikely
to work," said Professor Martin, part of the School’s Marketing
"But at that
point, as they become more positive in their outlook, good marketing
will build on this and suggest they can do even better. That type of
motivation works for those with a positive outlook.
marketers should also be aware that those who are thinking positively
will become discouraged if they don’t see success."
Martin and Sobh have devised performance measures to ensure marketers
achieve the optimal balance in their communications with consumers and
keep them motivated.
The 281 undergraduates were in surveyed in Bath and 62 per cent were gym users.
Martin and Sobh found that 85 per cent of those who wanted to avoid a
feared unattractive self responded to a scenario where they were
failing in the gym by wanting to press on, compared with 65 per cent
who were succeeding in the gym who were motivated to continue.
that 91 per cent of those thinking positively about their bodies
responded to a scenario where they were succeeding in the gym by
wanting to press on, compared with just 57 per cent of people who were
failing in the gym and wanted to go on.
For more information on the University of Bath, visit www.bath.ac.uk/.