by Dr. Traci Mann, Salon
I’ve given you the bad news: diets fail in the long run. Now, let’s try to understand why.
In social psychology we often say that if you find that most people behave in the same way, then the explanation for their behavior has very little to do with the kind of people they are. It has to do with the circumstances in which they find themselves. For example, most students in class raise their hands and wait quietly to be called on before speaking. It’s not that they are all timid or overly polite types of people. It’s that the classroom setting is sufficiently powerful that without really thinking about it, nearly everyone ends up following the same unwritten rules. When we think about people who regain weight after dieting, it’s a similar principle. It’s not that they have a weak will or lack discipline, or that they didn’t want it enough, or didn’t care. It’s about the circumstances in which they find themselves, and the automatic behavior that is provoked by those settings. In other words: if you have trouble keeping weight off, it is not a character flaw. Continue reading.