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Emotional eating and Pavlovian learning: Does negative mood facilitate appetitive conditioning?

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Abstract

Objective: Emotional eating has been suggested to be a learned behaviour; more specifically, classical conditioning processes might be involved in its development. In the present study we investigated whether a negative mood facilitates appetitive conditioning and whether trait impulsivity influences this process. Method: After undergoing either a negative or neutral mood induction, participants were subjected to a differential classical conditioning procedure, using neutral stimuli and appetizing food. Two initially neutral distinctive vases with flowers were (CS+) or were not (CS-) paired with chocolate mousse intake. We measured participants' expectancy and desire to eat (4 CS+ and 4 CS- trials), salivation response, and actual food intake. The BIS-11 was administered to assess trait impulsivity. Results: In both mood conditions, participants showed a classically conditioned appetite. Unexpectedly, there was no evidence of facilitated appetitive learning in a negative mood with regard to expectancy, desire, salivation, or intake. However, immediately before the taste test, participants in the negative mood condition reported a stronger desire to eat in the CS+ compared to the CS- condition, while no such effect occurred in the neutral group. An effect of impulsivity was found with regard to food intake in the neutral mood condition: high-impulsive participants consumed less food when presented with the CS+ compared to the CS-, and also less than low-impulsive participants. Discussion: An alternative pathway to appetitive conditioning with regard to emotions is that it is not the neutral stimuli, but the emotions themselves that become conditioned stimuli and elicit appetitive responses. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Appetitive conditioning, BEHAVIOR, CHOCOLATE, CONTEXT, CUE EXPOSURE, Cue reactivity, EGO-THREAT, Emotional eating, Impulsivity, Mood, PERSONALITY, REINFORCEMENT, STRESS, UNRESTRAINED EATERS, WOMEN
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-236
Number of pages11
JournalAppetite
Volume89
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015