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In Press

Lewis, N. A., Jr., & Earl, A. (Accepted in Principle*). Seeing More and Eating Less: Effects of Portion Size Granularity on the Perception and Regulation of Food Consumption. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Abstract: Over-eating and resulting obesity is a public health concern in the United States, and portion size is a factor that contributes to these problems (Zlatevska et al., 2014). The present research demonstrates that the granularity of labels used to describe portions also influences food consumption, independent of previously documented portion size effects. Across six studies and four different food items, we find a robust and reliable effect of portion size granularity labels on consumption intentions and food consumption. Having people think about food using fine-grained labels leads them to decrease their consumption intentions (Study 1) and ultimately eat less food (Studies 2a & 2b). This process operates by shifting people’s perceptions of the size of foods (rather than changing levels of construal) whereby portions described with fine-grained labels (e.g., “15 gummy candies”) are perceived to be bigger than portions described with gross-grained labels (e.g., “one serving”; Study 3). In addition, we tested if granularity would facilitate self-regulation of consumption for individuals with a weight-loss goal. Results support the hypothesis that granularity facilitates self-regulation, both by measuring self-regulation (Study 4) as well as by introducing a manipulation of self-regulation (Interpretation of Difficulty) to see if the effects of portion size granularity still hold (Study 5). Finally, Study 6 investigates the direct effect of granularity on consumption as well as generalizability across a more diverse sample. Taken together, portion size granularity impacts food consumption by shifting perceived food size. Shifts in perceived food size, in turn, impact self-regulation for individuals with a weight-loss goal in the face of a regulatory struggle.

*The final study (Study 6) of this paper is a Registered Report – the planned procedures and analyses were peer-reviewed prior to study completion or results being known. The final manuscript will be published following the completion of study 6.

Oyserman, D., Lewis, N. A., Jr., Yan, V. X., Fisher, O., O’Donnell, S. C., & Horowitz, E. (in press). An identity-based motivation framework for self-regulation. Psychological Inquiry. DOI: 10.1080/1047840X.2017.1337406 

Abstract: Will you be going to that networking lunch? Will you be tempted by a donut at 4 pm? If, like many people, your responses are based on your gut sense of who you are –shy or outgoing, a treat lover or a dieter, you made three assumptions about identity– that motivation and behavior are identity-based, that identities are chronically on the mind, and that identities are stable. If identities have worth and value then people should make sense of their experiences through the lens of these identities. If identities are stable and chronically on the mind, then no matter the setting, meaning making will be stable and people should be able to use their identities to control and regulate themselves. Many conceptual models are based on these assumptions. But just because these assumptions are common and useful does not mean they are correct. Identity-based motivation theory predicts that identity stability is a useful illusion but that thinking about the self is for doing –identity accessibility and content is flexibly attuned to contextual constraints and affordances. What is stable is not the content or structure of the self or the accessibility of a particular self-content or self-structure, but rather the motivation to use the self to make meaning. This flexibility is a design feature, not a flaw. Identities orient and focus attention on some features of the immediate context and render other features irrelevant or meaningless. Identity-based motivation theory provides a new way to understand self-regulation by focusing on how immediate context shapes which identities and self-concepts are on the mind what identities imply for meaning making. [ResearchGate PDF]


Aelenei, C., Lewis, N. A., Jr., & Oyserman, D. (2017). No pain, no gain? Social demographic correlates and identity consequences of interpreting experienced difficulty as importance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 43-55. 

Abstract: Community college students are less likely to graduate than university students, perhaps because their difficult life circumstances increase their vulnerability to misinterpreting the identity implications of experienced difficulty with schoolwork. Without guidance, they may fail to take a “no pain, no gain” perspective in which experienced difficulty with schoolwork implies the importance of succeeding in school. Two studies support this prediction: Study 1 (N = 1,035) finds that education is associated with higher likelihood of interpreting experienced difficulty as signaling task importance among adults. This effect is pronounced for racial minorities. Study 2 (N = 293) finds that students who disagreed that experienced difficulty implies impossibility were more certain about attaining their academic possible identities and more willing to sacrifice to attain these identities. Moreover, community college students benefited more than university students from being guided to consider what experienced difficulty might imply or from considering that experienced difficulty implies importance, rather than impossibility. [ResearchGate PDF] [Supplemental Materials]

Oyserman, D., & Lewis, N. A., Jr. (2017). Seeing the destination AND the path: Using identity-based motivation to understand and reduce racial disparities in academic achievement. Social Issues and Policy Review, 11(1), 159-194

Abstract: African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans aspire to do well in school but often fall short of this goal. We use identity-based motivation theory as an organizing framework to understand how macrolevel social stratification factors including minority-ethnic group membership and low socioeconomic position (e.g. parental education, income) and the stigma they carry, matter. Macrolevel social stratification differentially exposes students to contexts in which choice and control are limited and stigma is evoked, shaping identity-based motivation in three ways. Stratification influences which behaviors likely feel congruent with important identities, undermines belief that one’s actions and effort matter, and skews chronic interpretation of one’s experienced difficulties with schoolwork from interpreting experienced difficulty as implying importance (e.g., “it’s for me”) toward implying “impossibility.” Because minority students have high aspirations, policies should invest in de-stigmatizing, scalable, universal, identity-based motivation-bolstering institutions and interventions. [ResearchGate PDF]


Lewis, N. A., Jr., & Oyserman, D. (2016). Using Identity-Based Motivation to Improve the Nation’s Health Without Breaking the Bank. Behavioral Science and Policy, 2(2), 25-38. 

Abstract: For the first time in two decades, overall life expectancy in the United States is in decline. Perhaps most unsettling, this increase in mortality is largely due to lifestyle-associated diseases such as heart attack and stroke. In the interest of both the nation and individuals, it is imperative to use every behavioral science tool possible to prevent further population health declines. While most people aspire to live healthy lives, many, especially those in lower socioeconomic groups, fail to sufficiently engage in behaviors necessary to achieve or maintain good health. In this paper we define and outline a social psychology theory, identity-based motivation, as a useful framework for healthcare providers and others to use to support uptake and maintenance of healthy lifestyles. We review research demonstrating how small changes in the health care context and in the presentation of health care information can assist at-risk individuals and help them see themselves as partners in health with health care providers, reducing the likelihood that difficulties along the way will be misinterpreted as meaning that health is impossible. We provide health-supporting and disparity-reducing policy recommendations targeting providers, insurers, and public health initiatives. [ResearchGate PDF]

Lewis, N. A., Jr., & Sekaquaptewa, D. (2016). Beyond Test Performance: A Broader View of Stereotype Threat. Current Opinion in Psychology, 11, 40-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.05.002

Abstract: Stereotype threat is the “social psychological threat that arises when one is in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one’s group applies” (Steele, 1999). Although much of the research on stereotype threat has focused on how stereotype threat affects test performance, its original conception described a much broader and more general phenomenon. In this article we review stereotype threat research, taking a broader view on threat beyond the realm of test performance, focusing on its antecedents (e.g. environmental stereotype cues) and consequences (e.g., effects on interracial interactions). Interventions have also focused primarily on improving or preserving test performance, indicating the need for interventions that address the broader consequences of threat. [ResearchGate PDF]


Lewis, N. A., Jr., & Oyserman, D. (2015). When Does the Future Begin? Time Metrics Matter, Connecting Present and Future Selves. Psychological Science, 26, 816-825. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615572231

Abstract: People assume they should attend to the present; their future self can handle the future. This seemingly plausible rule of thumb can lead people astray, in part because some future events require current action. In order for the future to energize and motivate current action, it must feel imminent. To create this sense of imminence, we manipulated time metric – the units (e.g. days, years) in which time is considered. People interpret accessible time metrics in two ways: If preparation for the future is under way (Studies 1 and 2), people interpret metrics as implying when a future event will occur. If preparation is not under way (Studies 3-5), they interpret metrics as implying when preparation should start (e.g. planning to start saving 4 times sooner for a retirement in 10,950 days instead of 30 years). Time metrics mattered not because they changed how distal or important future events felt (Study 6), but because they changed how connected and congruent their current and future selves felt (Study 7). [ResearchGate PDF] [Supplemental Materials] [Statcheck Report] [Altmetric]