Remi Trudel Researches Consumers, Information, and Self-Control

in Academic Departments, Emerging Research, Faculty, Marketing, News
May 1st, 2012

Forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Psychology

Remi TrudelNew research by Remi Trudel, Boston University School of Management Assistant Professor of Marketing, explores the quest to assert self-control in consumers and dieters, and the role information such as nutritional data can play in amplifying self-regulation.

An article based on this research, “Self-Regulatory Strength Amplification through Selective Information Processing,” co-authored by Trudel and Kyle B. Murray of the University of Alberta School of Business, is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

The paper’s findings have important implications not just for the study of consumerism but also for the growing global concern over rising obesity and the ongoing Congressional debate around the availability of nutritional information.

“The findings have important implications not just for the study of consumerism but also for the growing global concern over rising obesity and the ongoing Congressional debate around the availability of nutritional information.”

Trudel and Murray’s work rests on prior research demonstrating that the strength people require to control their behavior is a limited resource, depleted with use. According to these theories, each act of self-control leaves the individual with less strength to regulate his or her behavior in the future. Simply stated, self-control is exhausting, and exerting self-control in an initial situation makes you weaker and less able to exert self-control when the next situation comes along.

In this research, however, Trudel and Murray demonstrate that although the depletion of self-control strength is common, it is not inevitable. In four experiments, the authors show that under certain conditions, consumers can amplify their strength and, as a result, increase their ability to control their behavior. Looking specifically at the context of eating behavior, Trudel and Murray find that when dieters have access to nutritional information, they are able to increase their self-regulatory strength, perform better on a subsequent physical and cognitive tasks, and control their consumption of a desirable food (such as chocolate).  However, in situations where nutritional information is not available, the self-regulatory strength of dieters is more depleted than that of non-dieters and, as a result, they are less able to control their eating behavior.