Eating Behaviour Notes

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Eating Behaviour
Attitudes to food:
Expectancy Theory;
Expectancy theory explains how decisions may be made in different situations and can be applied
to eating behaviour.
The evaluation of any situation or object comprises of two factors:
o The perceived likelihood that the object has certain attributes or may lead to certain
o The value attached has these outcomes (positive or negative).
o Each attribute/outcome will affect your evaluation of what to eat (e.g. an attribute may be
home made/bought or high/low calories).
If this theory is true then when we are given a choice between two foods, we should choose the
one with the most desirable attributes or outcomes (Conner & Armitage, 2002).
Cultural Influences;
Parent Influence - Parents, usually the mother, provide food for the child. Therefore, it is obvious
that the mother's attitude to food will affect the child's preferences. As expected, there is a
significant correlation between the diets of mothers and children (Ogden, 2007) This can be
explained through SLT. Parents, especially the mother, provide the key role models for the child.
o A common technique, used by many parents and based on operant conditioning, rewards
consumption of a disliked food with a desired food- `you can have some ice cream if you
eat your dinner'
Religion ­ Some forbid the eating of certain foods, or food has to be prepared in a particular way
o E.g. In Judaism, dairy and fish are carefully controlled and the eating of both together is
× Although some non-religious families have religious family traditions e.g. in Christianity ­
fish dish on Fridays. Therefore some traditions are more down to families passing them on
than religion.
Body shape & size - Eating or not eating certain types of food is one way in which people seek to
change their body shape/size so that it conforms to social ideals. In Western societies, thinness in
women has been increasingly portrayed as the ideal & studies indicate that over half of the 20th
century women have become increasingly dissatisfied with their body image (Feingold & Marzella,
1998). Fabulous magazine ­ 82% of women worry about their appearance.
o In other societies such as tribes ­ larger women are seen as the ideal as it shows their
wealth. This links with the evolutionary theory that suggests curvy women (large hips) were
attractive as good for reproduction.
Health Concerns;
Research shows that restricting some foods is a way of managing chronic health concerns e.g.
Some foods make you ill e.g. Allergies.
What you eat makes you more or less likely to develop certain diseases.
Healthy eating in children ­ modelling using admired peers can increase consumption of fruit and
vegetables (Low, Dowey & Horne, 1998).

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When children asked about beliefs and eating behaviour (made food journey over a week)
their fruit/veg consumption increased (Gratton et al, 2007) - Social desirability.
Predisposed to choose high energy foods, so puts fruit/veg at disadvantage (Steptoe and Wardle,
Low self-esteem is linked to impulse buying and snacking (Verplanken et al, 2005)
Mood & Stress;
Carbohydrates can improve mood. Participants were found to choose carbohydrate drinks over
others to make them feel better/happier (Corsica and Spring, 2008).…read more

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Lateral hypothalamus (LH) ­ when stimulated it produces hunger and when damaged
results in dramatic reduction in food intake
o Ventromedial (VMH) ­ triggers a sense of fullness thereby reducing appetite.
3. Role of stomach ­ hunger was largely determined by hunger pangs (muscle contractions of an
empty stomach. Contractions were measured and were found at height of hunger (Conner and
Washburn, 1912)
o Other mechanisms must play a role in triggering hunger (Passer et al, 2009)
4.…read more

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Preference for sweet foods by:
o Grill and Norgen (1973) found lab rats accept sweet foods in almost reflex like way that
required no decision making.
o Bell et al (1973) Inuit Indians that do not have sugar in their diet, very quickly choose to eat
it when it became available.…read more

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Obesity can run in families and therefore shows that there may be biological factors that effect
Twin studies are a way of testing this explanation of obesity:
o Bouchard et al (1990) ­ overfed 12 pairs of identical twins. Found that there were 3x more
similarity in weight gain within pairs than between pairs.
o Stunkard et al (1990) - looked at 25,000 pairs of twins in Sweden between 1958-1886 .…read more


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