Understanding dieting: a social cognitive analysis of hedonic processes in self-regulation

Papies, E. K. , Stroebe, W. and Aarts, H. (2009) Understanding dieting: a social cognitive analysis of hedonic processes in self-regulation. European Review of Social Psychology, 19(1), pp. 339-383. (doi:10.1080/10463280802563723)

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The present paper introduces a novel approach to understanding failures of self-regulation in chronic dieters. Traditional approaches to this problem have focused on consciously controlled processes of eating regulation, such as the realisation that one has overeaten, or the experience of food cravings. We argue, however, that dieters' problem might rather lie in their sensitivity to the hedonic aspects of food and the resulting inhibition of their dieting goal. We present a goal-conflict model that integrates recent findings on hedonic sensitivity in eating regulation with social cognition research on nonconscious goal pursuit. We show that the perception of attractive food triggers hedonic thoughts about food in chronic dieters and leads to the inhibition of their dieting goal. These processes make subsequent overeating more likely, while bypassing dieters' conscious awareness. We discuss how our model can accommodate earlier research findings in this area, and we consider its implications for dieting behaviour and for our attempts to resist temptations more generally.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Papies, Dr Esther
Authors: Papies, E. K., Stroebe, W., and Aarts, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:European Review of Social Psychology
ISSN (Online):1479-277X

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