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Do overweight youngsters like food more than lean peers? Assessing their implicit attitudes with a personalized Implicit Association Task

, : Do overweight youngsters like food more than lean peers? Assessing their implicit attitudes with a personalized Implicit Association Task. Food quality and preference 18(8): 1077-1084

It has been theorized that overweight and obesity are related with a heightened (unhealthy) food preference. Until now both self-reports and indirect attitude measures offer little support for this hypothesis. Using a personalized version of the Implicit Association Task [IAT; Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The Implicit Association Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464-1480], this study investigated (1) whether overweight youngsters (n = 40) implicitly prefer palatable food to an attractive non-food category such as hobbies and (2) whether they implicitly prefer unhealthy palatable food to healthy palatable food, compared to a matched group of lean controls (n = 40). Further, it was examined whether these implicit attitudes correlated with self-reported food and hobby attitudes. The results revealed no effect for food versus hobbies. Both groups implicitly preferred healthy to unhealthy food. Positive correlations between implicit and self-reported attitudes were only found for hobbies. Several interpretations of these findings are discussed.


DOI: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2007.05.003

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