Valenced and arousal-based affective evaluations of foods

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Woodward, Halley Elizabeth
University of Iowa
affective evaluation; arousal; eating; food; implicit; valence; Psychology
thesis / dissertation description
Objective: To examine nutrient-specific and individual-specific correlates of valenced and arousal-based affective evaluations of foods across the spectrum of disordered eating, as well as to examine the validity of automatic and controlled processes of affective evaluation.Methods: 283 undergraduate women provided implicit and explicit valence and arousal-based evaluations of 120 food photos with known nutritional information (i.e., high or low added fat, high or low added sugar). Participants completed structurally similar indirect and direct affect misattribution procedures (AMP; Payne et al., 2005; 2008). These AMPs were paired with novel arousal-based AMPs to investigate both fundamental dimensions of affective evaluations of foods: valence and arousal. Participants completed questionnaires assessing body mass index, hunger, eating restriction, and binge eating.Results: Nomothetically, added fat and added sugar enhance the pleasantness and arousal of affective evaluations of foods. Idiographically, hunger and binge eating are associated with higher arousal, whereas BMI and restriction enhance pleasantness ratings. Added fat enhances the pleasantness ratings of women who are hungrier, or who endorse greater restriction, and enhances both the pleasantness and the arousal ratings of heavier women. In contrast, added sugar is especially influential on the pleasantness and arousal ratings of less hungry women. Restriction was related only to valenced affective evaluations, whereas binge eating related only to arousal affective evaluations. Finally, patterns of findings are largely similar across implicit and explicit affective evaluations, albeit stronger for explicit.Conclusions: Findings support the utility of distinguishing nutrients in future work, underscore the importance of examining both the valence and the arousal dimensions of affective evaluations, and provide modest support for the validity of dual-process models of affective evaluation of foods.