Subjective and physiological reactivity to chocolate images in high and low chocolate cravers

Biol Psychol. 2005 Sep;70(1):9-18. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.10.001.


Cue-reactivity to chocolate images was assessed using self-report and physiological measures. From a pre-screening sample of 454, young women were selected and assigned to high and low chocolate craving groups (N = 36/group). The experimental procedure consisted in the elicitation and measurement of the cardiac defense and startle reflexes while viewing chocolate and standard affective images selected from the International Affective Picture System. In response to chocolate images, high cravers reported more pleasure and arousal but less control than low cravers. In high cravers, viewing chocolate images inhibited the cardiac defense but potentiated the startle reflex, as compared to low cravers. The results confirmed at the physiological level that the motivational state that underlies the experience of chocolate craving include both appetitive (inhibition of the defense reflex) and aversive (potentiation of the startle response) components. The findings supported a motivational conflict theory of chocolate craving.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Blinking
  • Cacao*
  • Candy*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Motivation*
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires