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.