UW Today

This is an archived article.

January 2, 1997

So you made New Year’s resolutions: Now UW researchers want to know what they are and why people do or don’t keep them

University of Washington researchers are looking for a few good New Year’s resolutions. In fact, they want to know about the resolutions made by several thousand Puget Sound residents.

Thanks to the Internet, participation in the study is only a few computer keystrokes away via the Worldwide Web and e-mail. Researchers Alan Marlatt, a UW professor of psychology, and Elizabeth Miller, a graduate psychology student, are seeking participants 18 years and older to fill out electronic questionnaires about their resolutions and the motivations behind them between now and Jan. 15.

All people have to do to participate is send an e-mail message to {newyear@u.washington.edu} or access the following web site: {https://psychserve.psych.washington.edu:88}.

The researchers will contact participants electronically in March for a follow-up survey to assess how successful or unsuccessful people were in achieving their resolutions. It will take approximately 20 minutes to fill out each of the two questionnaires.

“New Year’s resolutions are one of the ways many people try to make changes in their lives and many of these changes are health-related,” said Marlatt, who has studied the topic in the past.

“While there are all kinds of resolutions, they generally fall into two broad categories: starting something new like an exercise program or improving your study habits or quitting something such as smoking or drinking. Quitting tends to be harder than starting something new.”

Marlatt and Miller are particularly interested in health-related resolutions and in better understanding the self-initiated mechanisms of behavior change. They also hope to better understand why some people successfully keep their New Year’s resolutions while others are unsuccessful.

The research project is one of the first on the UW campus to be almost totally conducted and tabulated by computers. UW students can enroll in the study on campus in the basement of Guthrie Hall and fill out the initial questionnaire on paper, but the follow- up survey will be conducted electronically.

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For additional information, contact Miller at (206) 543-6694 or by e-mail at {lizza@washington.edu} or Marlatt at 685-1395 or {Marlatt@u.washington.edu}.