Healthy eating strategies can be based on approach (foods one should eat) or avoidance (foods one should not eat). Previous research has reported mixed findings for the effectiveness of these strategies. The current research examines whether weight status moderates the effectiveness of approach and avoidance strategies in goal pursuit. Using an ideal weight goal context, this research shows that approach strategies motivate goal-consistent behaviors among people with poor weight status by increasing the perceived attainability of the goal. Avoidance strategies are more motivating among people with good weight status because they decrease the perceived progress toward the goal, which increases the perceived need for additional effort in the form of goal-consistent behaviors to ensure timely attainment.
Denise Buhrau is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Stony Brook University, NY. She received her PhD from Tulane University. Professor Buhrau conducts research on consumer behavior, with a particular focus on judgement and decision-making in health-related contexts. Her research attempts to identify communication strategies that can be used to help vulnerable consumer segments to engage in better health decision making by exploring messages and strategies that utilize innate motivators. Her work has been published in leading marketing journals such as the Journal of Consumer Psychology, and leading journals in other disciplines such as Appetite in the field of nutrition and dietetics and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs in the field of substance abuse.