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Volume 33 Issue 8 (August 2016), Pages 585-674

Saying “No” to Cake or “Yes” to Kale: Approach and Avoidance Strategies in Pursuit of Health Goals (pages 588-594)


In developing plans for achieving health‐related goals, two fundamentally different strategies are often used: focusing on healthy foods that one should include in their diet, such as kale (referred to as “approach”), and focusing on unhealthy foods that one should exclude from their diet, such as cake (referred to as “avoidance”). The present research examines the differential effectiveness of approach‐ and avoidance‐based strategies across levels of self‐control, highlighting differences in food choices. The results reveal that those low in self‐control focus on avoidance items they really like and approach items that are less appealing, while those higher in self‐control show an opposite pattern, leading to more‐motivating plans. In addition, the results show that the self‐control by strategy type interaction on liking leads to differences in propensity to choose healthy items. Overall, this research highlights the importance of understanding differences in the implementation of commonly recommended strategies to improve one's health and wellness.

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