Hyperbolic Discounting, the quick fix to weight loss failure.

Ineffective Weight Loss and Hyperbolic Discounting

If not properly addressed, unchecked bad habits will wreak havoc on our 2018 change plans. Author Nir Eyal states a habit is a behavior carried out with little or no conscious thought (2014). Without conscious thought, bad habits coupled with today’s topic, hyperbolic discounting will continuously set almost anyone up for failure on their weight loss journey.

ln layman terms, hyperbolic discounting is simply choosing a lesser immediate reward over another higher value delayed reward. So, you might ask what is the significance of addressing hyperbolic discounting in relations to a diet or making a healthy lifestyle change? Simply everything if this is your issue. Hyperbolic discounting allows us to become imprisoned into choosing the ineffective quick fix diet. Once this happens, you can expect to ride the yo-yo dieting ferris wheel that leads rapid and unhealthy weight loss that often leads many to weighing more than when they first begun. Hyperbolic discounting plays a role into dismissing the healthier longer option (e.g. 6 month plan) that teaches proper lifestyle changes.

Just to be clear, the dynamics associated with hyperbolic discounting does not appear to be one associated with a lack of control. My research into hyperbolic discounting suggest scientist addressed this issue from an evolutionary approach. For example, “back in the day”, when hunters found food, it had to be consumed immediately. Simply, there was no guarantee that if they did not eat right away, there would be a bigger reward down the path. If you want to review some good information on self-control, look up the marshmallow test by Dr. Walter Mischel. The rules for the preschoolers were simple, you could eat one marshmallow now, or get two when the teacher returns. CNN.com stated it best, while the rules were easy, the results were far more complex then Dr. Mischel could have ever imagined (cnn.com).

Overcoming hyperbolic discounting will take some work. This issue is known as a cognitive bias and is often used as a mental shortcut. As expressed above, if this shortcut is left unchecked, hyperbolic discounting has the power to override common sense and causing more harm than good.

Hyperbolic discounting is so effective, many marketers use it in their advertising. In his blog, kissmetrics.com, conversion consultant Jeremy Smith explains – “hyperbolic discounting may sound like jargon, but it’s pure gold”. Jeremey states that you can do a couple of things with this phenomenon. You can recognize the sinister effect it has on your life or adopt it and use it in your business”.

My task for you is to complete some research and read about hyperbolic discounting. Identify the impact how hyperbolic discounting could impact your personal goals. As always research, read and make every attempt to understand the “forces” that makes it difficult to take realistic, small, and consistent steps towards your goals.

As always, it about “microwins!”

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Kris J. Snyder, LMFT, MBA, CPT

Eyal, Nir. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. , 2014. Print.

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