Eating revision



Factors Affecting Attitude to Food


            Relationship A01

            There is a well documented link between food (particularly unhealthy food)          and positive mood.

Hunger is associated with an increase in arousal and irritability.

            After eating we feel calm, sleepy and have mostly pleasurable feelings.

            Garg et al: Popcorn Research A02

Procedure: One group of participants watched a sad film in an artificial cinema (lab environment) while another group of participants watched a happy film in an identical artificial cinema. All participants were given the same amount of popcorn. The experiment was repeated the next day, with each group watching the other film.

Findings: On average, the participants consumed 28% less popcorn watching the sad film.

Conclusion: People eat more when they are sad, supports the theory that mood affects eating behaviour

People eat more when they are sad because…        

            Serotonin Hypothesis A02

Eating > converts tryptophan to serotonin > increased serotonin levels > improved mood

            Carbohydrates contain tryptophan which converts to serotonin in the brain.

Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.

Gibson (2006) found that people with depression consume more carbohydrates because it increases the serotonin in the brain.

This explains why food has a positive effect on mood.         

However proteins prevent tryptophan converting to serotonin – as most foods, including chocolate, contain protein, this may not be a satisfactory explanation of the effect of mood on food. An alternative explanation may be…

            Opiate Hypothesis A02

Eating > stimulates opiate neurotransmitters > causes feelings of pleasure       and pain reduction

            Food stimulates opiate neurotransmitters in the brain

            These opiate neurotransmitters include enkephalin and beta-endorphin.

            They are involved in feeling pleasure and pain reduction.

            This explains why food has a positive effect on mood.

            Nature / Nurture A03

Suggests the effect of mood on eating behaviour is a result of biological factors, or a person’s nature. Psychologists are interested in the nature / nurture debate, and therefore the effect of environment on eating behaviour.

The extent to which culture determines eating behaviour allows psychologists to investigate the nurture aspect of the debate.


            Cultural Variations A01

Mediterranean people typically have diets high in fruit, vegetables and olive oil.

British people on average consume the least fruit.

Swedish and Dutch people typically have a diet high in fibre.

Spanish and Italian people on average consume the least fibre.

These cultural variations show that culture affects eating behaviour.

This is supported by research…

            Leshem (2009): Bedouin / Jewish women A02

Procedure: Studied Bedouin women in the desert and Bedouin and Jewish women in towns.

Findings: The diets of the Bedouin women in the desert and the towns were similar to one another and different to the diets of the Jewish women

Conclusion: Diet is determined by culture not access to food, shows the effect of culture on eating behaviour

            Parental modelling A02

Brown and Odgen (2004) suggest that children observe and replicate their parents…


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