Top 10 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions #8 – Control Your Environment
Change Your Environment, Change Your Habits
Most people underestimate how large of an impact our environments can have on cueing us to fall back
into specific habits.
In one of the most “interesting” studies done in psychology, Brian Wasnick had participants watch a
movie and gave all of them popcorn. What was so interesting about this study is that the popcorn was
2-week old stale popcorn. For those people who would have normally ate popcorn while at the movie
theater, they ate about two-thirds of the container. What does this have to do with the environment?
1 – Those people ate a good amount of the 2 week old, stale popcorn irrespective of how large that
container was. In other words, the size of the container mattered more than the taste as people with
the stale popcorn ate about 75% of the amount as those who received fresh popcorn.
2 – When those same people were put in a different environment (a lighted room) they ate significantly
This environmental effect has been shown in experiment after experiment.
Another example is from the “Never-Ending Bowl” experiment. In this experiment, psychologists had a
bowl of soup that would be continually refilled from the bottom without the participants knowing.
Because the bowl never dropped down to completely empty, the participants continued eating. In fact,
they ate an average of 73% more than those that had a normal bowl, without feeling more full or even
realizing that they had ate more.
The bottom line is that small, seemingly innocuous details in your environment can have significant
impacts on how much you eat or whether or stick to new habits.
Just as turning on the lights in the popcorn study had people recognize that they were eating stale
popcorn, how can you make shifts to your environment or within your everyday habits to help you stay
aware of what your goals and resolutions are?
If you’re buying food for a family, maybe you can re-organize a cabinet so that the first thing you see
when you open it is fruits and vegetables and not “snacks that aren’t aligned with “healthy eating.”
Those are some examples, but at the end of the day, you know your environment much better than I
can guess. By spending just 5-10 minutes thinking about this now, you can help shift your habits in a
positive direction forever.
#1 Small Shift to Your Environment __________________________________________________
#2 Small Shift to Your Environment __________________________________________________
#3 Small Shift to Your Environment __________________________________________________