Abstract: The Effect of Ego Depletion in Restrained versus Unrestrained Eaters on Attentional Bias

I will be conducting my research this summer with Dr. Catherine Forestell. Much research has been dedicated to the relationship between weight, food type, and intake, yet obesity and overweight continue to be a growing problem in the United States and abroad. I am interested in looking at particular cognitive factors that may affect self-control in tempting food environments, which will help explain the relative ineffectiveness of dieting fads. In order to understand the role of self-control resources in selective attention to foods, I will recruit participants, half of whom will complete a cognitively demanding task and half of whom will not. I will then measure implicit selective attention to various food stimuli to determine whether the cognitive depletion manipulation affects participants’ responses to food. My hypothesis is that individuals who follow a restricted diet in order to maintain or reduce their weight will be more distracted by unhealthy food stimuli following the cognitive depletion task than those who do not restrict their food intake.

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