The role of interpersonal stress in overeating among high and low disinhibitors

Eat Behav. Spring 2001;2(1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/s1471-0153(00)00020-9.


This study was concerned with the role of interpersonal stress in precipitating eating for high and low disinhibitors. Two forms of stress, ostracism and argument, were compared. A second comparison focused on targets and sources of both forms of interpersonal stress. Fifty-seven females who differed in their level of disinhibition participated in a two-stage experiment. In the first stage, they were engaged in a social interaction with two other people. The second stage involved a taste test; the dependent variable was the amount of food eaten. There were no differences between the ostracism and argument conditions for the amount of food eaten; nor did high and low disinhibitors differ. There was, however, a significant interaction between level of disinhibition and role (target vs. source) for the amount of food eaten. High disinhibitors ate markedly more than low disinhibitors when they were targets; the two groups ate similar amounts when they were sources. Strategies that dieters can employ in order to overcome the tendency to overeat are outlined.