Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Rewarding the good with the bad

If you’ve ever seen an aerobics show on TV, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the fast-food companies advertise heavily during these shows. What advertisers seem to be targeting so mercilessly is our tendency to want to “reward” ourselves after doing something that's good for us. In other words, those advertisers are in effect saying, "Go ahead. Have a cheeseburger and a shake. You're exercising, so you deserve it!" This is the same psychology behind golf’s so-called 19th hole: An afternoon spent whacking and following around a small, white ball outside in the fresh air should be rewarded afterwards, the logic must go, with a few cocktails. We all need a little break now and then, but perhaps we should resist the temptation to reward ourselves after every single good thing. How about after every other good thing?

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