Fatigue Helps You Make Good Health Decisions

Researchers say there might be one good thing about being fatigued: we make better health-care decisions when we’re feeling tired and run down.

“We proposed that people are more motivated to engage in healthful behavior when they are depleted and perceive their safety to be at stake,” write authors Monika Lisjak, of Erasmus University, and Angela Y. Lee, of the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

 In their study, researchers looked at how consumers use “self-protective motivation” when it comes to avoiding danger. They also studied consumer preference for products that emphasize safety.

In one experiment, participants read a health message that both described the dangers of kidney disease, advocated the benefit of early detection, and emphasized the risks of a family history of kidney disease.

The authors found that people with a family history of kidney disease and those who were feeling run down were likelier to be tested than those who were feeling healthy. Participants without a family history expressed a similar low interest in being tested regardless of how they were feeling.

In a second study looking at product selection, participants were asked to fill out a survey on health and fitness habits either before or after working out at the gym.  As a thank you gift, the participants were able to choose either sunblock or moisturizer. When participants were surveyed after working out, the likelihood of choosing sunblock was much greater than choosing the moisturizer.

 “Consumers value products that emphasize safety features more when they are feeling depleted. Retailers may benefit from placing safety-related products near the checkout or running ads for security-related products at the end of the day,” the authors concluded.

 The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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