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Dietary restraint and US devaluation predict evaluative learning
journal contributionposted on 22.01.2016, 11:42 by Jeffrey M. Brunstrom, Suzanne Higgs, Gemma Witcomb
Previous research has indicated that flavor–flavor learning is impaired in restrained eaters. In Experiment 1 we sought to extend this finding using a larger sample and a more comprehensive assessment of dietary behavior. Participants (N =90, including 30 current dieters) sampled three novel flavors (CSs), each on 10 separate occasions, in a randomized order. Each flavor was paired with chocolate (US) either 10%, 50%, or 90% of the time. We then assessed liking for the three CSs and asked participants to complete the DEBQ-restraint and TFEQdisinhibition sub-scales. After these CS-US parings, restrained eaters tended to prefer the 10% paired flavor whereas unrestrained eaters tended to prefer the 90% paired flavor. Differential CS liking was not evident in dieters and it was not predicted by disinhibition. Using a similar methodology, in Experiment 2 (N =76) we assessed evaluative change following picture-sweet pairings. Relative to the other CSs, the restrained eaters reported a greater increase in their liking for the 10% paired CS and the unrestrained eaters reported a greater increase in their liking for the 90% paired CS. We also discovered that evaluative change is related to the level of US devaluation that takes place during conditioning. Evidence that a sweet US can bring about a decrease in liking has not been reported previously. One interpretation is that negative beliefs and attitudes can contaminate the representation of the US during training.
This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); grant reference: D15238.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences