Suicide. Lies. All our habits.


All indulgences in life are bad for us—or at least it often seems that way. We regularly desire things that provide short-term satisfaction, yet may harbor long-term negative consequences. In order to enjoy these ‘‘guilty pleasures’’ however, we often find ways to justify their consumption. Challenging or adverse experiences serve this purpose well, providing a convenient rationale for self indulgence and making us feel more entitled to a little pleasure.

This paper considers two studies that support the link between adversity and self-reward. Study 1 demonstrates that pain leads to self-reward but only in contexts that frame the experience of pain as “unjust.” Study 2 shows that after pain people are more likely to self-reward with guilty pleasures (chocolate) in preference to other kinds of rewards (a pen).

The studies provide evidence that simply experiencing physical pain facilitates indulgence in guilty pleasures.

{ SAGE | PDF }