So... do you intend to get high?
Simply asking survey participants if they intend to exercise or use illegal drugs in the near future can result in increases in both behaviors, according to researchers at Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and Baruch College.
These findings should serve as a warning to public policy and health behavior researchers who routinely use surveys as a method to study risky behaviors, the researchers say.
"We expected to find that students asked about exercise would exercise more, because that fits with past research regarding people's motivation to conform with socially desirable behaviors," said marketing professor Gavan Fitzsimons of Duke's Fuqua School of Business. "What we weren't expecting to see is that the students asked about drug use actually reported more, not less, use of illegal drugs."
In a study published in the June issue of the journal Social Influence, marketing professors Fitzsimons, Patti Williams of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and Lauren Block of Baruch's Zicklin School of Business asked 167 undergraduate students how likely they were to either exercise or use illegal drugs during the next two months.