Using foods as CSs and body shapes as UCSs: A putative role for associative learning in the development of eating disorders
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 13:42 authored by Kristy R R Lescelles, Andy FieldAndy Field, Graham C L Davey
The present paper reports the results of two experiments exploring possible changes in the affective ratings of foodstuffs as a result of their pairing with pictures of differing types of female body shapes. Experiment 1 reports the results of a visual evaluative conditioning (EC) experiment in which pictures of foodstuffs (CSs) were paired with pictures of either obese, normal, or thin female body shapes (UCSs). The results suggested that selective EC effects could be obtained when pictures of foods were used as CSs and pictures of different body shapes as UCSs. Specifically, pairing obese body shape UCSs with food CSs resulted in a significant postconditioning negative evaluative shift in those foods. Experiment 2 suggested that the selective conditioning effects found in Experiment 1 could be explained in part by an a priori CS-UCS expectancy bias in which participants exhibited a significantly greater bias towards expecting food CSs to be paired with obese rather than thin body shape UCSs. These findings have implications for our understanding of eating disorders, and, in particular, how conditioned shifts in the affective valences of food-stuffs can occur through their pairing with particular types of negatively valenced body images.
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