Fear of looking unattractive can be a stronger motivation for keeping people going to the gym than the hope of looking good, a study says.
Researchers 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.
They then asked this group to either imagine a scenario in which they dramatically failed to keep to a fitness programme or one in which they dramatically succeeded.
The 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.
Those who 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.
The findings reveal why marketing works or doesnt 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.
How 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 Baths School of Management, who carried out the study with Dr Rana Sobh of Qatar University.
When people 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.
At that point, marketers should take advantage of another insight of our study - that of motivating people with a more positive outlook.
Professor Martin found that among those who were asked to think positively about their bod
|Contact: Tony Trueman|
University of Bath