University Of Pennsylvania Weight Loss Study
Purpose – This is a 4-arm, randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of financial incentives to motivate and sustain long-term weight loss. The study will recruit eligible employees at a large health management company to participate in a 6 month weight loss program and have weight measurements for an additional 3 month follow-up period. The primary outcome measure in this randomized controlled trial will be pounds of weight lost.
The experimental groups will include variations of deposit contracts (participants put their own money at risk, and lose that money if they fail to achieve their weight loss goal) and fixed payments. The use of deposit contracts is a powerful mechanism for inducing behavior change that is based on loss aversion, a psychological concept first described by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979. A deposit contract takes advantage of the fact that people typically feel the pain of a loss more than the pleasure of a gain, increasing ones motivation to reach a goal.
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