Date Thesis Awarded

11-2020

Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Catherine Forestell

Committee Members

Cheryl Dickter

Jaclyn Moloney

Tatia D. Granger

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that restrained eaters, individuals who engage in restrained eating in order to reduce food intake to lose weight or maintain their current weight, tend to eat more after they have been presented with high-calorie preload. This disinhibition of food intake may be a result of an enhanced attentional bias toward food cues and especially to high-calorie food cues. The goal of the current study was to examine whether restrained eaters demonstrate an increased attentional bias to high-calorie versus low-calorie foods after consuming a preload. Participants, who were identified as either high-restraint (n=69) or low-restraint (n=71), completed a dot-probe task in which high-calorie and low-calorie food pictures were presented with pictures of visually matched neutral items pictures for 200 ms. This task assessed participants' attentional bias before and after consuming a high calorie food or water (control group). Half of the participants who received the high calorie preload were told that the food was a high calorie dessert and the remaining participants were told it was a low-calorie snack. Results indicated that attentional bias did not change as a result of consuming the preload. Nevertheless, high-restraint eaters showed a significant attentional bias to low-calorie foods overall, which was independent of BMI and craving state. In contrast, low-restraint eaters directed marginally more attention to high-calorie foods. These results suggest that contrary to previous findings, high-restraint eaters display attentional bias to low-calorie foods at least in their initial attention orientation. Future research can examine whether this bias exists over a longer time period and whether restrained eaters’ attentional biases affect subsequent eating behaviors.

Keywords: restrained eaters, dietary restraint, attentional bias, counter-regulation

Available for download on Thursday, November 24, 2022

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