'Pain of No Gain' - Using Hypocrisy to Increase Commitments to Physical Fitness

17 Pages Posted: 6 May 2020

See all articles by Emmet Sullivan

Emmet Sullivan

University of Pennsylvania; University of Virginia - Department of Psychology

Date Written: December 13, 2019


At the start of every year, millions of Americans vow to commit themselves to improving their physical health through joining a gym. Unfortunately, many of these promises go unfulfilled as surveys indicate that many members fail to attend their club as frequently as they’d like, and thus aren’t achieving their health goals. I propose a psychologically-based intervention to help increase gym attendance through a cognitive-dissonance based approach to psychological change. New gym members will film videos in which they state their fitness-related goals and commit to a regular attendance schedule. These videos will be sent to them every month as well as shown to other gym members. The goal of this intervention is to:

1) provide new gym members with a way to make public commitments to their health and,

2) to invoke a hypocritical state-of-mind amongst participants who fail to maintain commitment to these goals. When members have publicly committed to a course of action to improve their health and fail to uphold it, their need for self-integrity will be threatened as they may fear being seen (or view themselves) as hypocritical. To relieve the resulting cognitive dissonance, I propose that members will increase their gym attendance to realign their thoughts and commitments with their behaviors, thus reducing dissonance and increasing health.

Keywords: hypocrisy, commitment, cognitive dissonance, physical health

Suggested Citation

Sullivan, Emmet, 'Pain of No Gain' - Using Hypocrisy to Increase Commitments to Physical Fitness (December 13, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3590830 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3590830

Emmet Sullivan (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

University of Virginia - Department of Psychology ( email )

United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics