Perceived changes in food intake in response to stress: the role of conscientiousness

O'Connor, D. B. and O'Connor, R. C. (2004) Perceived changes in food intake in response to stress: the role of conscientiousness. Stress and Health, 20(5), pp. 279-291. (doi: 10.1002/smi.1028)

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The role of conscientiousness in understanding the effects of stress on eating behavior remains unknown. In this study, the interactive effects of conscientiousness and established individual differences variables (e.g. restraint, perfectionism) on perceived changes in food intake during a 2-week stressful and non-stressful period were examined. One hundred and fifty-five female participants completed measures of conscientiousness, self-oriented perfectionism, socially prescribed perfectionism and eating style (i.e. external eating, emotional eating and dietary restraint) at the beginning of the study. Perceived changes in food intake (i.e. between-meal snacking), stress and emotional distress were also assessed. The results found that low conscientious individuals who were currently trying to lose weight or were high on self-oriented perfectionism reported eating more between-meal snacks than usual during the stressful period compared to the non-stressful period. This study demonstrates, for the first time, that conscientiousness in conjunction with established individual differences variables is associated with perceived increases in food intake. These results suggest that when faced with a stressful encounter, low conscientious individuals (who are dieters or self-oriented perfectionists) may be less well equipped to cope and as a result shift their preference to more palatable and high energy dense snacks foods.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory
Authors: O'Connor, D. B., and O'Connor, R. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Stress and Health
ISSN (Online):1532-2998
Published Online:06 December 2004

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