So, you and your friends care about each other. You are trying to harness that fondness to get off those holiday pounds. People say nothing is stronger than The Power Of Love, after all. What to do? A certain friend recently proposed the following to a group of close pals:
Is there anything you are trying not to eat? Fried pickles? Buffalo wings? Whole Food’s truffles? Our agreement would be that anytime you eat something you are not supposed to, the others of us have to eat whatever it is we are trying to avoid. If [friend A] eats a fistful of Chick-o-Sticks, for example, then I have to eat a pice of chocolate cake. Do you see how it works? I don’t want [friend B] o have to go to KFC, so I will avoid Peanut Butter Patties. Instead of just a normal pact between us, digressions would actually hurt the other people involved.
Her friends are skeptical that this wouldn’t actually motivate them. Instead they want something like “If I go to Coldstone Creamery, then [friend A] to go jogging for an hour.” She doesn’t understand why this would motivate Any True Friend, since [friend A] has said she needs to exercise more anyway and so then by going to Coldstone Creamery all she’d be doing is making the friend overcome whatever motivational barriers keep her from something she wishes she was doing anyway.
My suggestion was that they do something like “If I go the Coldstone Creamery, then [friend A] has to cut a teensy slice off their little toe,” which seems to me like a direct and effective solution, but she’s balked at this for some unknown reason.
So: can altruism be used for effective dieting? If so, what would be effective?
Postscriptum: Regarding my star resolution, I’ve got 7 stars so far, meaning that if I don’t use the elliptical trainer again this year I owe $4,825 to founding a Best Astrosociology Paper award (whose entries I then have to judge) or whatever it is I ultimately choose as my negative incentive.