Licensing in the Eating Domain: Implications for Effective Self-Control Maintenance
The current study assessed the relationship between licensing and self-control maintenance. Previous research on licensing has found mixed results for the effect of perceived progress on goal pursuit. Some studies find evidence that progress increases commitment and motivation to a goal, making licensing less likely, whereas other studies have found that progress leads to coasting and feelings of earned licensing. Previous work on managing food consumption has demonstrated that using a mental budget in tandem with a salient avoidance goal is an effective means of monitoring and limiting overindulgence. The current study used a mixed event-contingent and fixed-interval experience sampling design to examine the role of licensing in the eating domain and its effect on goal pursuit. Participants in the experimental condition were prompted with personalized commitment devices each day to assess if they promoted goal pursuit and appropriate licensing. We found that licensing occurs infrequently, but when it does occur, goal progress and goal commitment increase. The use of commitment device has little impact on licensing or goal pursuit.
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