Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Catherine A. Forestell


Dietary restraint, or chronically controlling one's weight through diet, is a difficult pursuit. When faced with tempting foods, only a minority of restrained eaters manage to regulate their intake. Impulsivity, a multidimensional construct implicated in addictive behaviors, may be a factor that predicts regulation. The goals of the current study were twofold: firstly, we examined the effect of consuming a diet-violating preload on state impulsivity, and secondly, we examined how dietary restraint and changes in state impulsivity interact to influence subsequent overeating. In a laboratory study, female participants (n=146) with differing levels of dietary restraint provided measures of their state impulsiveness before and after consuming a 16oz preload of either a milkshake (High Calorie group) or water (Control group). The two state impulsivity subtypes assessed were inhibitory control, measured using the Stop Signal Task (SST), and food-specific impulsive choice, measured using a modified Delay Discounting Task. Results showed that after consuming a preload, all participants showed decreases in food-specific impulsive choice but not in inhibitory control. For those in the milkshake condition who were high in dietary restraint, higher initial inhibitory control and larger decreases in food-specific impulsive choice predicted lower subsequent caloric intake. No effects of impulsivity on consumption were seen for participants in the Control condition. These results suggest that subtypes of state impulsivity play differential roles in the eating behaviors of restrained eaters, and highlight important predictors of counter-regulation. Understanding the causal pathway between restraint and counter-regulation informs future directions in creating healthy eating interventions.



© The Author

Included in

Psychology Commons