So if you want 2016 to give your body a sexy shape,  a question like, 'Will I exercise -- yes or no?' may be more effective than declaring, 'I will exercise', the study said.

The trick of asking a question works also in people whose behaviour you want to influence, the researchers said. "Will you exercise this year?" That simple question can be a game-changing technique for people who want to influence their own or others' behaviour, said the study spanning 40 years of research.

The research looked at more than 100 studies examining the 'question-behaviour effect,' a phenomenon in which asking people about performing a certain behaviour influences whether they do it in the future.

The effect has been shown to last more than six months after questioning.

The researchers found the question-behaviour effect to be strongest when questions are administered via a computer or paper-and-pencil survey, and when questions are answered with a response of 'yes' or 'no.'

They also found that those using the technique are better off not providing a specific time frame for the target behaviour.

The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.


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