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Studies Encourage Behaviors that they Study?

This is interesting.
Some researchers did a study where they asked one group of college students how often they used drugs and another group how often they exercised. Later, they did a follow up and the first group was more likely to have increased drug use and the second group was more likely to have increased exercising.
It’s not enough to make too much of it yet, and there’s little doubt that there’s some amount of normal suggestibility in behavior (cigarette smokers will tell you that anti-smoking ads often make them want to light up). And this doesn’t make those who didn’t already use drugs/exercise start up.
But it does add a wrinkle to the whole notion of doing behavioral surveys:

Since the study appeared in the June issue of the academic journal Social Influence, Fitzsimons’ research team has fielded calls from health practitioners concerned that asking patients about depression and possible thoughts of suicide might make matters worse.

I don’t have time to think about it. I’m busy conducting a survey — asking women how often they’ve slept with red-bearded men.

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