Eating Behaviour PSYA3

Attitudes to food - AO1

Social Learning Theory (Bandura) 

  • What parents eat = what children eat. This can cause bad eating habbits if parents dont have a balanced diet.
  • Research showed that there is a link between parents snacking behaviour and body dissatisfaction and childrens. (Brown and Ogden)
  • Young girls see the ideal body from the media and the models they use and want to be and look like them by changing their diets.
  • The media has an effect on what we eat and our attitudes to foods such as any chocolate, sweets or foods high in calories make us 'fat'.
  • However eating behaviours are limited by factors such as age, income and family circumstances.
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Attitudes to food - AO2

Social Learning Theory.

  • Research support- Found a strong correlation between peer influence and disordered eating in 10-12 year old girls and boys. The 'likeability' of peers was more important to the children than other factors and so linked strongly to SLT. (Meyer and Gast)
  • Much more than learning- Choice of food comes from much more than social learning but evolutionary explanations. For example a long time ago preference for fatty, sugary foods would have been in order to keep us alive and has evolved from there.
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Attitudes to food - AO1

Culture Influences.

  • Ethnicity
  • Body dissatisfaction, eating concerns and disorders are more common in white women than other cultures.
  • A study taken out showed that the longer time women spent in Australia, from different cultures, the more there attitudes changed towards food and body satisfaction. This is known as the 'acculturation effect'
  • Social Class
  • Body dissatisfaction, eating concerns and disorders are more common in higher class.
  • A study showed that out of 7000 american students the higher classes where the ones who were more likely to go on a diet to be like the models from the magazines than those from lower classes.
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Attitudes to food- AO2

Cultural Influence.

  • Ethnicity- Research limitation- eating disorders are more common in white females than black or asian females. However studies have found that bulimia sufferers is more common in asian females than white which contradicts the initial theory. (Mumford) However what does link with the theory is that white women have more of a 'drive for thinness' than others. (Striegal-Moore)
  • Social Class- Research limitation- A sample of American students with higher social class was related to greater satisfaction of weight and lower class associated with weight control behaviours such as vomiting. (Story)
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Attitudes to food - AO1

Mood and Eating behaviour.

  • Individuals who have Bulima have shown to have has low mood and anxiety prior to a binge.
  • Bulimia sufferers also appear to have a low mood one hour before a normal meal time.
  • Research has shown that even though there is a low mood before the binge, the eating does not alleviate the low mood but simply supress it for a while.


  • When in a low mood eating junk food is the norm to pick us back up.
  • Research showed that while watching a sad film people would rather eat the buttered popcorn but when watching a happy film would have eat the grapes.
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Attitudes to food - AO2

Mood and Eating behaviour.

  • Binge-eating and reinforcement- although there is a drop in mood before a binge eating period the actual binge itself serves only an immediate alleviation of the mood but almost straight after it will drop again.
  • Chocolate- the ultimate comfort food?- Chocolate has a slight anti-depressant which for some people can be used as an emotional eating strategy against a negative mood, this works well especially when repeated often. (Parker)
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Attitudes to food - AO3

  • Cultural differences- different cultures = different attitudes to food. e.g countries like America eat for health and countries like France eat for pleasure and taste.
  • Gender Bias- the majority of the research and studies taken place where done on girls, and can not be generalised for males.
  • Generalisability- Studies done in clinical, none and sub-clinical enviroments all with different outcomes showing that the results can not be generalised for all.
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Success/Failure of diets -AO1

Restraint theory/Boundary model (Herman and Polivy)

  • As many as 89% of women have restrained from eating at one point in their lives.
  • Hunger keeps the intake of food above a minimum and below the maximum amount of food which helps us avoid being too hungry and avoid being too full.
  • Dieters have a larger range between their maximum and minimum so to avoid them getting hungry and stay satisfied for longer.
  • Example:

                 | hunger                     | diet boundary                     | satisfied

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Success/Failure of Diets - AO2

Restraint theory/Boundary model (Herman and Polivy)

  • Limited Research
  • Dieting thats failed can lead to obesity as it can make people feel depressed. Over eating may be a consequence of obesiet if restraint eating is used as a treatment.
  • Extreme dieters such as bulimias and anorexics report episodes of overeating and therefore could not be applied to them. However restricting anorexias do apply to this, but how do they do it if restricting does eventually lead to overeating?
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Success/Failure of diets - AO1&2

Role of Denial- AO1

  • Participants were asked not to think of a white bear and to ring the bell when they did, they rang the bell more than people who were told to think of the white bear.
  • The theory of ironic processes of mental control is where dieters suppress their thoughts about food but according to this theory asoon as the thought of food is suppressed it simeltaenously becomes more desirable.
  • The key to a successful diet is not to think of the food as a whole but to focus on the specifics e.g carrot, lettuce or tomato.
  • The jelly bean experiment showed that those who thought about the specific flavour of the bean rather than the number didnt get as bored as easily.

Role of Denial- AO2

  • Participants split into restraint and non-restraint eaters, though who were likely to stop eating thought about food more and showed signs of rebounding when dieting. (Soetens)
  • The ironic effects have showen to be detectable in experiments but dont have as much impact as first thought.
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Success/Failures of Diets - AO3

  • Culture Bias- Some cultures find it harder to diet than other for example asian cultures.
  • Free will/Determinism- Gene codes such as LPLs can cause and increase in calorie storage.
  • Does dieting make you dumb?- Women between the age of 18-30 took part in a study to test reaction times and other tests and the results showed that the women who had been on weight loss diets had slower reaction times than those who werent.
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Olivia Marshall


Really good, informative notes. Thank you, will help me very much!

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