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Good Mood Food. Positive Emotion as a Neglected Trigger for Food Intake

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Good Mood Food. Positive Emotion as a Neglected Trigger for Food Intake

Catharine Evers et al. Appetite.

Abstract

Research on emotions as a trigger for food intake has mainly been focused on the role of negative emotions. In the present studies the role of positive emotions as a trigger for food intake is investigated in a sample of healthy participants with a normal weight. Two laboratory studies were conducted in which positive emotions or no emotions were induced (Study 1) or in addition negative emotions were induced (Study 2) after which unhealthy food intake was assessed by bogus taste tests. In Study 3, food intake was assessed by registering snack intake in a 7-day diary study together with the emotions accompanying each snacking episode to provide a more ecologically valid test of our hypothesis. Studies 1 and 2 showed that positive emotions, compared to the control conditions, evoked more caloric intake. Dietary restraint did not moderate this effect. Study 2 additionally showed that positive emotions evoked caloric intake to the same extent as negative emotions. Study 3 showed that snack intake in daily life was reported to result from positive emotions more frequently than from negative emotions.

Conclusions: Positive emotions serve as an important but under-investigated trigger for unhealthy food intake that deserves further scrutiny. Future research should further investigate whether food intake results from emotional arousal in general, or from emotional valence in particular.

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