The current study (N=153) was designed to explore the relationships between emotional eating and emotion regulation, attentional biases, and food consumption. Emotional eating describes the tendency to eat in response to emotional experiences, especially negative emotions, and is associated with the consumption of high-fat, sugary foods. The present study explored whether food intake could be modified among a sample of emotional and non-emotional eaters by shifting attention away from high-calorie pictorial food stimuli using the attentional bias modification (ABM) training paradigm. Participants were randomly assigned to either the attentional-training group, placebo-training group, or control group. Following the training, participants underwent a negative emotion induction and were promptly given a bogus food taste test where high- and low-calorie foods were presented. Results indicated that emotional eating was not associated with greater attentional biases towards high-calorie food cues. Unlike previous research, the ABM training did not successfully modify attention away from high-calorie pictorial food stimuli nor influence food intake in the predicted direction. Emotional eating status, body mass index, food insecurity, nor difficulties with emotion regulation seemed to predict total food consumption during the taste test. Rather, gender seemed to best predict total food consumption, with self-reported men consuming the most. The failure to find an association between emotional eating and food intake following a negative emotion induction adds to the existing literature on the difficulties of capturing emotional eating in a laboratory setting. Limitations and future studies are addressed in the discussion.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Eating disorders--Treatment; Food habits--Psychological aspects; Attention

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Experimental Psychology (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Psychology (CLA)


Joseph S. Baschnagel

Advisor/Committee Member

Stephanie A. Godleski

Advisor/Committee Member

Tina Sutton


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes