The study aimed to investigate attentional bias for food cues among restrained eaters. In particular, the roles of speeded detection (enhanced orientation of attention toward food stimuli) and slowed disengagement (trouble disengaging attention from food stimuli) were examined. Participants were 78 female undergraduate students aged 18-25 years, classified as restrained (N = 38) or unrestrained eaters (N = 40). Attentional bias was assessed by a visual search task which required participants to locate the position of an odd-one-out target word in a matrix of 19 distractor words. Restrained eaters were disproportionately faster than unrestrained eaters to detect a food word within a neutral matrix compared to a neutral word within a neutral distractor matrix. Restrained eaters were also disproportionately faster, rather than slower, than unrestrained eaters to detect a neutral word within a food matrix compared to a neutral word within a neutral distractor matrix. Thus restrained eaters show a heightened vigilance for food cues, but no slower disengagement from such cues.
- Attentional bias
- Dietary restraint
- Food cues
- Odd-one-out visual search task
- Speeded detection