The role of expectations in the effect of food cue exposure on intake

Eva Kemps, C. Herman, Sarah Hollitt, Janet Polivy, Ivanka Prichard, Marika Tiggemann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Pre-exposure to food cues has often been shown to increase food intake, especially in restrained eaters. This study investigated the role of expectations in the effect of such pre-exposure on food intake. A sample of 88 undergraduate women was exposed to visual food cues (photos of grapes and chocolate-chip cookies). In a 2 × 2 × 2 design, participants were explicitly told to expect that they would be tasting and rating either grapes or chocolate-chip cookies. Participants subsequently completed an ostensible taste test, in which they tasted and rated either grapes or cookies, such that half were given the food that they had been led to expect and the other half were given the other food. Participants' restraint status (restrained versus unrestrained) was based on their scores on the Revised Restraint Scale (Herman & Polivy, 1980). A significant interaction between expected food and restraint status was found. When participants were led to expect that they would be tasting grapes, restrained and unrestrained eaters did not differ in their subsequent consumption (of either grapes or cookies). However, when participants were led to expect that they would be tasting cookies, restrained eaters ate significantly less (of both grapes and cookies) than did unrestrained eaters, even though craving ratings were similarly elevated for both restrained and unrestrained eaters. The findings are consistent with counteractive control theory in that restrained eaters who expected to eat a high caloric food may have been able to activate their dieting goal, thereby limiting their food intake. The findings further point to an important role for expectations in the understanding and regulation of food intake in restrained eaters.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-264
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


    • Consumption
    • Counteractive control theory
    • Craving
    • Dietary restraint
    • Expectations
    • Food cues


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