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EMAC 2022 Annual

Buying Clothes in Smaller Sizes Elevates Weight Loss Motivation

Published: May 24, 2022


Nukhet Taylor, Ryerson University; Donya Shabgard, York University; Theodore J. Noseworthy, York University


Many consumers want to lose weight, and purchase products they can only use upon reaching this goal. Some statistics suggests that a majority of consumers bought clothes that were too small for them at time of purchase, with the intention of wearing them upon losing weight. Despite the prevalence of this purchase tendency, it is yet unclear whether and how this may have consequences for consumers’ weight loss success. Across three pre-registered studies, we explore the answer to this question. We document that buying clothes in smaller sizes acts as a precommitment device for weight loss, and consequently, elevates weight loss motivation. We also find that this effect prevails even when consumers are randomly assigned to the purchase act. These findings lend critical insights into how a purchase act that is not causally related to goal pursuit can nevertheless have a positive impact on weight loss success.