Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 167–175 | Cite as

Expectation, fantasy, and weight loss: Is the impact of positive thinking always positive?

  • Gabriele Oettingen
  • Thomas A. Wadden
Article

Abstract

We investigated the impact of expectation and fantasy on the weight losses of 25 obese women participating in a behavioral weight reduction program. Both expectations of reaching one's goal weight and spontaneous weight-related fantasies were measured at pretreatment before subjects began 1 year of weekly group-treatment. Consistent with our hypothesis that expectation and fantasy are different in quality, these variables predicted weight change in opposite directions. Optimistic expectations but negative fantasies favored weight loss. Subjects who displayed pessimistic expectations combined with positive fantasies had the poorest treatment outcome. Finally, expectation but not fantasy predicted program attendance. The effects of fantasy are discussed with regard to their potential impact on weight reduction therapy and the need for further studies of dieters' spontaneous thoughts and images.

Key words

fantasy expectation obesity weight reduction 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bandura, A. (1986).Social foundation of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, G. A. (1986). Cognition rehearsal in the treatment of obesity: A comparison against cue avoidance and social pressure.Addictive Behaviors, 11 225–237.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernier, M., & Avard, J. (1986). Self-efficacy, outcome, and attrition in a weight-reduction program.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 10 319–338.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J. D. (1986). Evaluations of self and others: Self-enhancement biases in social judgments.Social Cognition, 4 353–376.Google Scholar
  5. Brownell, K. D. (1989).The LEARN program for weight control. Dallas, TX: Brownell and Hager.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983).Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, R. L., Rothblum, E. D., & Wilson, G. T. (1986). The comparative efficacy of cognitive and behavioral approaches to the treatment of obesity.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 10 299–317.Google Scholar
  8. Edell, B. H., Edington, S., Herd, B., O'Brien, R. M., & Witkin, G. (1987). Self-efficacy and self-motivation as predictors of weight loss.Addictive Behaviors, 12 63–66.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Forster, J. L., & Jeffrey, R. W. (1986). Gender differences related to weight history, eating patterns, efficacy expectations, self-esteem, and weight loss among participants in a weight reduction program.Addictive Behaviors, 11 141–147.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Glynn, S. M., & Ruderman, A. J. (1986). The development and validation of the eating self-efficacy scale.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 10 403–420.Google Scholar
  11. Johnson, J. E., Lauver, D. R., & Nail, L. M. (1989). Process of coping with radiation therapy.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57 358–364.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Langer, E. J. (1975). The illusion of control.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32 311–328.Google Scholar
  13. Lewinsohn, P. M., Mischel, W., Chaplin, W., & Barton, R. (1980). Social competence and depression: The role of illusory self-perceptions.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89 203–212.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Marlatt, G. A., & Gordon, J. R. (Eds.) (1985).Relapse prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  15. Perloff, L. S., & Fetzer, B. K. (1986). Self-other judgments and perceived vulnerability of victimization.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50 502–510.Google Scholar
  16. Peterson, L. (1989). Coping by children undergoing stressful medical procedures: Some conceptual, methodological, and therapeutic issues.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57 380–387.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1987). Dispositional optimism and physical well-being: The influence of generalized outcome expectancies on health.Journal of Personality, 55 169–210.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Suls, J., & Wan, C. K. (1989). Effects of sensory and procedural information on coping with stressful medical procedures and pain: A meta-analysis.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57 372–379.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health.Psychological Bulletin, 103 193–210.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Wadden, T. A., Foster, G. D., & Letizia, (1990).Long-term treatment of obesity with and without very-low-calorie diet. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  21. Wadden, T. A., & Flaxman, J. (1981). Hypnosis and weight loss: A preliminary study.International Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 29 162–173.Google Scholar
  22. Wadden, T. A., & Stunkard, A. J. (1986). Controlled trial of very low calorie diet, behavior therapy, and their combination in the treatment of obesity.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54 482–488.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriele Oettingen
    • 1
  • Thomas A. Wadden
    • 2
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaUSA
  2. 2.University of Pennsylvania School of MedicineUSA

Personalised recommendations