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    Heyen, Nils B. 2016. Lifelogging.

    Gould, Stephen J. 2012. The emergence of Consumer Introspection Theory (CIT): Introduction to a JBR special issue. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 65, Issue. 4, p. 453.

    Roberts, Seth 2012. The reception of my self-experimentation. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 65, Issue. 7, p. 1060.

    Soojung‐Kim Pang, Alex 2011. Using Futures 2.0 to manage intractable futures: the case of weight loss. Foresight, Vol. 13, Issue. 4, p. 35.

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    Bains, William 2008. The Biomedical Mutual Organization: A new approach to developing new medical treatments. Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 70, Issue. 4, p. 719.

    Bains, William 2008. Truly personalised medicine: Self-experimentation in medical discovery. Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 70, Issue. 4, p. 714.


Self-experimentation as a source of new ideas: Ten examples about sleep, mood, health, and weight

  • Seth Roberts (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2004

Little is known about how to generate plausible new scientific ideas. So it is noteworthy that 12 years of self-experimentation led to the discovery of several surprising cause-effect relationships and suggested a new theory of weight control, an unusually high rate of new ideas. The cause-effect relationships were: (1) Seeing faces in the morning on television decreased mood in the evening (>10 hrs later) and improved mood the next day (>24 hrs later), yet had no detectable effect before that (0–10 hrs later). The effect was strongest if the faces were life-sized and at a conversational distance. Travel across time zones reduced the effect for a few weeks. (2) Standing 8 hours per day reduced early awakening and made sleep more restorative, even though more standing was associated with less sleep. (3) Morning light (1 hr/day) reduced early awakening and made sleep more restorative. (4) Breakfast increased early awakening. (5) Standing and morning light together eliminated colds (upper respiratory tract infections) for more than 5 years. (6) Drinking lots of water, eating low-glycemic-index foods, and eating sushi each caused a modest weight loss. (7) Drinking unflavored fructose water caused a large weight loss that has lasted more than 1 year. While losing weight, hunger was much less than usual. Unflavored sucrose water had a similar effect. The new theory of weight control, which helped discover this effect, assumes that flavors associated with calories raise the body-fat set point: The stronger the association, the greater the increase. Between meals the set point declines. Self-experimentation lasting months or years seems to be a good way to generate plausible new ideas.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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