Autobiographical memory specificity and restrained eating: examining the influence of priming with images of healthy and unhealthy foods

Wallis, Deborah J. and Moss, Jessica and Varnam, Bethany and Dritschel, Barbara and Ridout, Nathan (2023) Autobiographical memory specificity and restrained eating: examining the influence of priming with images of healthy and unhealthy foods. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 28 (53). ISSN 1590-1262

Wallis, Moss, Varnam, Dritschel & Ridout (2023) AM specifity & restraint - food priming.pdf - Published Version
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Background Dietary restraint has been linked to deficits in the ability to recall detailed memories of personally experienced events (referred to as autobiographical memory specificity). As priming with healthy foods increases the salience of restraint it would be expected to lead to greater deficits in memory specificity.
Objective To determine if priming word cues with images of healthy or unhealthy foods would influence the specificity of
memory retrieval, and if deficits in memory specificity would be more evident in those reporting higher levels of dietary restraint, or currently dieting.
Methods Sixty female undergraduates self-reported if they were currently dieting and completed measures of mood, restraint, and disinhibition, and a modified version of the autobiographical memory task. Participants were presented with positive and negative words (unrelated to eating concerns) and asked to retrieve a specific memory in response to each cue. A food
image was shown prior to each word cue; half of the participants were primed with images of healthy foods and half with
images of unhealthy foods.
Results As expected, participants primed with healthy foods retrieved fewer specific memories than did those primed with unhealthy foods. However, neither restraint nor current dieting behaviour was associated with memory specificity.
Conclusions Differences in memory specificity between the priming conditions cannot be explained in terms of increased salience of restraint. However, it is plausible that unhealthy images led to an increase in positive affect, which in turn improved memory specificity.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
24 November 2022Accepted
21 June 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dieting, Restraint, Memory-specificity, Positive affect, Priming
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-04 - psychology and health
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Deborah Wallis
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2023 13:03
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2023 13:03

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