The supermarket willpower test – The 200 words project

The local supermarket is one of the best places to understand what we know about willpower.

A well-functioning super market will begin by having free food samples in the bakery section near the entrance. As a group of Stanford researchers showed, eating sweets increases people’s propensity to buy more and makes them over-sensitive to dopamine triggering “for sale” signs.

Somewhere close, you’ll also see green and healthy food. It makes a lot more sense to have vegetables near the checkout line so your tomatoes don’t get crushed by other stuff you buy. But, vegetables help you stock up on good karma (“moral licensing”). You can then proceed to spend the karma you earned on unhealthy stuff.

Milk, bread and eggs are all the way at the back – if you came for a quick run, you still need to pass all the tempting stuff en-route – twice.

Finally, even if you managed to make it to the checkout counter resisting everything, you have candy and gossip magazines waiting for you while you wait. After all those vegetables, tossing one of these wouldn’t hurt, right?

The test isn’t over till you are out of the examination hall.

“he odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one. – Erma Bombeck

supermarketImage Source

Source and thanks to: The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg