The moderating role of state inhibitory control in the effect of evaluative conditioning on temptation and unhealthy snacking

Ashleigh Haynes, Eva Kemps, Robyn Moffitt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    12 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The current study sought to test the effect of a brief evaluative conditioning intervention on experienced temptation to indulge, and consumption of, unhealthy snack foods. We expected that a training task associating unhealthy food with negative affect would result in lower experienced temptation across the sample, but would lead to lower snack consumption only among individuals with low state inhibitory control. Undergraduate women (N=. 134) aged 17-25. years were randomised to complete an evaluative conditioning procedure pairing unhealthy food with either positive or negative affect. Snack consumption was subsequently assessed using a taste-test procedure which offered four snack foods for ad libitum consumption. Participants also reported the strength of their experienced temptation to indulge in the foods presented. Additionally, they completed a Stop Signal Task as a measure of state inhibitory control. As predicted, participants in the food negative condition ate less than those in the food positive condition, but this effect was only observed among individuals with low inhibitory control. The same moderation pattern was observed for the effect of evaluative conditioning on temptation: only participants with low inhibitory control reported feeling less tempted by the snack foods in the food negative condition compared to the food positive condition. In addition, temptation mediated the effect of evaluative conditioning on intake for individuals with low inhibitory control. Findings suggest that evaluative conditioning of unhealthy food stimuli could be especially useful for reducing temptation and consumption of unhealthy snacks in situations where individuals experience low inhibitory control capacity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-142
    Number of pages8
    JournalPhysiology and Behavior
    Volume152
    Issue numberPart A
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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