Journal article Open Access

Implicit evaluation of chocolate and motivational need states interact in predicting chocolate intake in everyday life

Richard, Anna; Meule, Adrian; Blechert, Jens

Snack food consumption has a high relevance for health and is partially controlled by implicit, motivational processes that make self-control difficult at certain times. Specifically, research suggests that individuals with a more positive implicit food evaluation consume more snack foods in the laboratory under conditions of high motivational needs (e.g., hunger and food craving). Yet, no study investigated if and under which circumstances implicit evaluation of food predicts snack food intake in real life. In the present study, 60 female undergraduate students (mean age: 22.3 ± 2.34 years) at the University of Salzburg, Austria, completed a chocolate-related Single Category Implicit Association Test in the laboratory and then reported snack food intake during seven days of signal-contingent Ecological Momentary Assessment. Results showed that a more positive implicit evaluation of chocolate was associated with a higher likelihood of consuming chocolate in states of high hunger and high momentary chocolate craving, whereas no such modulatory pattern was found in states of low hunger or low chocolate craving. Therefore, interventions targeting daily chocolate craving and consumption may be particularly beneficial in specific situations (i.e., in states of high hunger and craving) and also in vulnerable populations (e.g., those with a more positive implicit food evaluation).

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