Food Palatability Directs Our Eyes Across Contexts

Yu Liu*, Anne Roefs, Chantal Nederkoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is often believed that attentional bias (AB) for food is a stable trait of certain groups, like restrained eaters. However, empirical evidence from this domain is inconsistent. High-calorie foods are double-faceted, as they are both a source of reward and of weight/health concern. Their meaning might depend on the food-related context (i.e., focus on health or on enjoyment), which in turn could affect AB for food. This study primed 85 females with hedonic, healthy, and neutral contexts successively and examined whether food-related context affected AB for food and if effects were moderated by dietary restraint. Both the mean tendencies of AB for food and variability of AB for food were assessed in a food dot-probe task with a recording of both reaction times and eye movements. Contrary to our hypotheses, AB for food was not significantly affected by either context or the interaction between context and dietary restraint. Instead, liking of the presented food stimuli was related to longer initial fixations and longer dwell time on the food stimuli. In addition, in line with prior research, body mass index (BMI) was correlated with variability of AB for food instead of mean AB for food. In conclusion, this study did not find any support that AB for food is dependent on food-related context, but interestingly, reaction time-based variability of AB for food seems to relate to BMI, and eye movement-based mean AB seems to relate to appetitive motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number664893
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2021


  • attentional bias
  • dynamics
  • context
  • priming
  • restrained eating
  • CUES

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