A2 Unit 3 Eating Behavior (AQA)

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Effects of EARLY LEARNING on attitudes to food and eating behaviour
Exposure to Food
o The more exposed to food we are, the more we like it.
o Birch and Marlin (1982) ­ introduced 2 year old children to novel foods over a six week
period. One food was shown 20 times, one 10 times, one 5 times and one remained novel.
The results showed a direct relationship between exposure to food and food preference.
They found that 8 to 10 exposures were usually necessary before preferences began to
Lab experiment ­ high control and easy to replicate, but low ecological validity.
2 year old children ­ low population validity, ungeneralisable to others.
Need to get consent from parents for the children.
o The mechanism of exposure simply suggests that we like foods we are most familiar with
and don't like anything new, until you've had so much exposure it is familiar to you.
Associative learning
1) Classical Conditioning - Use food as a reward and we will prefer it. The neutral stimulus
(NS) is associated with unconditioned stimulus (UCS) which produces the unconditioned
response (UCR). After repetition, the neutral stimulus (NS) becomes the conditioned
stimulus (CS) which produces the now conditioned response (CR).
o Lepper et al (1982) - used imaginary foods with 28 pre-school children. Told them a story
about a little boy or girl (depending on sex of ppt) who were given choices by their mother:
1) Contingency condition (having one food was contingent on eating the other food) ­ `you
can hule if you eat the hupe' 2) Non-contingency condition (having one food wasn't
contingent on eating the other food) ­ `you can have hule then hupe'. Children were then
asked which food they preferred and the order of presentation counterbalanced any
possible order effects. Results showed there were no preferences in non-contingency
condition, however in the contingency conditions, children preferred the food being used as
a reward ­ if you eat hupe, you can have hule. The Evidence indicates that this increases the
preference for the reward food even more as pairing 2 foods together like this; they see
the reward food as more positive.
Lab experiment ­ high control but lacks ecological validity
Compares to a control group.
2)Making an association between food and physiological responses ­ becoming ill puts
you off that food. If you have a good experience ­ you like the food, if you have a bad
experience ­ you dislike t he food.
o Garcia et al (1974) - he gave 2 groups of rats' water 1) no radiation 2) mild radiation 3)
strong radiation. Depending on the radiation, the rats would become sick and they
associated this with the water because those that became sick stayed away from the water.
Unethical ­ harming animals.
Social Learning
1) Peers influence our food preferences
o Birch et al (1980) ­ used peer modelling to change preferences of vegetables. On 4
consecutive days the children participating in study sat next to someone who had a different
preferred vegetable to themselves. By the end of the study the children showed a definite

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Field experiment ­ high ecological validity, but less control over extraneous variables which
could've affected the results.
o Lowe et al (1998) ­ showed a video of `food dudes' to children, expressing enthusiastically
how much they liked a certain food, which that child doesn't like. The results showed that
exposure to the food dudes significantly changed the children's food preferences and
increased consumption of fruit and vegetables.…read more

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Olivera et al (2000) - to investigate whether acute stress changes food choice during a meal. Eating
attitudes and food preferences of 68 men and women were measured before they allocate to
either stress ­ had to prepare and give a 4 min speech on controversial topic, which would be filmed
or control condition ­ listen to a neutral text. Measured effect of stress with combination of
physiological measures (blood pressure) and self-reports.…read more

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Set point is good at supervising fat storage, but cannot tell
difference between dieting and starvation. The dieter who begins a diet with a high set point
experiences constant hunger, as a part of her body's attempt to restore status quo. After an initial,
relatively quick loss, dieters often become stuck at a plateau and then lose weight at a much slower
rate, although they remain hungry as ever. Long-term caloric deprivation acts a signal for the body to
turn down the metabolic rate.…read more

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Rodin et al (1977) ­ emotional eating and low self-esteem cause obesity motivates them to lose
Ogden (2000) and Ogden and Hills (2008) ­ depression and low self-esteem caused obesity
(psychological factors)
Self-reports ­ social desirability bias
Cultural bias ­ only in westernized countries
Mainly women ­ beta (gender) bias ­ minimising difference between m & f
Redden (2008) ­ ppts ate 22 fruit flavoured jelly beans while rating their enjoyment.…read more

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Hormone released from adipocytes (fat cells) in bloodstream
Acts in the hypothalamus as a satiety signal
As more fat is stored, more leptin is released and hypothalamus is stimulated to reduce food
intake. It's LT.
Carlson (2007) - obese mice don't produce leptin and so they eat continuously and become
obese. We also know that injections of leptin into obese mice stop them from eating as much
and they return to normal weight.…read more

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Metabolic rate support ­ animals that live in environments where it is difficult to obtain food
should be more impulsive with regard to eating and less willing to delay for a larger amount
of food later over a small amount immediately. Forzano and Logue (1992) found a correlation
between increasing deprivation and decreasing levels of self-control in humans.…read more

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1) Evolutionary Approach
o Reproduction Suppression Model
During our evolutionary past, it is unlikely that food supplies would have been constant,
regular and adequate for the daily needs of a hunter-gatherer population throughout the
year. Therefore our ancestors probably evolved to conserve resources in their adipose
tissues when food was plentiful and to metabolise them sparingly during periods of famine.
AN may represent a female strategy to supress reproductive functions at time of
environmental stress.…read more

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Garfinkel and Garner (1992) have suggested that people with AN have disturbed functioning of the
hypothalamus. Animal research has found that damage to the parts of the hypothalamus in the brain
can result in the animal starving itself to death. Malfunctioning of the hypothalamus might therefore
explain eating disorders in humans.
Only been tested on animals in the lab
The neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in behavioural functions. Serotonin is made from an amino
acid called tryptophan, which is found in protein.…read more

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Self-reports ­ social desirability/demand characteristics
Longitudinal study ­ could be caused by extraneous variables.
The media transforms social norms and cultural views, so a way of testing the hypothesis is to look at the incidence of
AN in other cultures. Sui-Wah (1989) reported AN is rare in black populations in western and non-western cultures
and in China. Chinese have a cultural norm of respect for food, so thinness is not valued.…read more


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