Today’s Headlines: Failing Diets, Smoking and The Dress

When it comes to diets your head might be in it, but your heart probably isn’t. It’s easy to decide you want to go on a diet, but sticking to it can be a lot more challenging. A group of researchers think they know why. “In two separate experiments involving about 300 people, the researchers looked at whether the decision-making factors people use to change their eating behaviors are the same ones they use to guide their food consumption. The researchers asked men and women about their thoughts and feelings about eating specific foods, such as carrots or pizza, and categories of foods, such as high-fat foods or fruits and vegetables. The results showed that the factors that guide diet planning differ from those that guide actual diet behavior. People’s thoughts drive their plans to change eating behavior, such as deciding to lose weight, by making healthier food choices or increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet. But it’s momentary feelings, such as a desire for a tasty, high-calorie food or negative associations with a food, that affect people’s actual food choices.” The researchers say the best way to make change is to try and switch over to things you enjoy, like from potato chips to a vegetable you like. That way you find something that’s intellectually and emotionally appealing. (Fox)

Financial incentives help smokers to quit. Quitting smoking and breaking nicotine addiction can be incredibly challenging, but new research points to money as a new way to help drop the habit. “The team ran a pilot program, signing up 2,538 people from across the United States. They were assigned to one of five groups, each with a different incentive: an $800 reward for quitting as an individual; a reward for quitting as a group of six; putting down an upfront deposit of $150 that would be doubled and returned if the smoker quit; a competitive deposit (competing for other participants’ deposits and matching funds); or the usual counseling with free smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum. Only 6 percent of those who got counseling and stop-smoking aids were able to quit. But 12 to 14 percent of those in the rewards groups were able to quit for six months or more.” The researchers found that when people have to bet some of their money up front, they tend to be especially motivated. While rewards for not smoking worked well, having something to lose if you failed to stop was most effective for quitting in the long run. (NBC)

It’s all about the lighting when it comes to seeing The Dress. The Internet exploded with arguments about the true color of a dress pictured in a photo that circulated online. New research has helped to understand why it was that people had such difficulty figuring out the true color. “Researchers learned that people vary when it comes to color perception largely due to differences in how people perceive light. What was possibly throwing people off was the lighting in the photo. Daylight lighting can look bluish around midafternoon and it can look yellowish in the morning or later in the evening. Normally, people use reference points and surrounding context to perceive colors and they unknowingly filter out the blue or yellow-hued lighting. But the photo of the dress had no reference points. Therefore, people looking at the dress were not able to filter out the lighting that was influencing their perception of the color.” In other words, the colors you picked hinged on how your brain interpreted the daylight shining on it. Even among those who had the same opinion about the true colors, the researchers found nuances. Some who saw it as blue might see a light or dark blue for example, while those who saw it as gold saw a spectrum of yellow to brown. (TIME)