Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Jennifer C. Veilleux

Committee Member

Lindsay Ham

Second Committee Member

Scott Eidelman


Psychology; Cognition; Dietary restraint; Eating behavior; Restrained eating


People are often faced with a self-control dilemma whenever the attainment of a long-term goal would come at the expense of an alluring temptation. The goal-conflict model of eating (Stroebe, van Koningsbruggen, Papies, & Aarts, 2013) suggests that restrained eaters (i.e., chronic dieters) experience self-regulation failure (e.g., overeating, or disinhibition) due to inner competing goals of eating enjoyment and weight control. The current study examined these concepts in a sample of people classified as unrestrained eaters (N = 123), allowing for an investigation of restricted cognitive focus as a causal mechanism of disinhibited eating. A 2 (restraint condition: restriction, intuitive eating) X 2 (temptation manipulation: temptation, no temptation) study design was used to manipulate cognitive restraint and temptation, thus modeling goal-conflict. Results of both a pilot study and the laboratory based experiment indicated the restraint manipulation was effective, such that those in the restriction condition showed greater resistance to eating and reported a greater positive change in desire to cognitively manage food intake at the end of the experiment; however, food consumption did not change based on temptation or restraint conditions. Though findings did not support predictions that a restricted cognitive focus is a causal mechanism of disinhibited eating, it appears restraint does operate on a cognitive level and additional work is needed to further examine the effects of time and context in the relation between cognitive restraint and eating behaviors.