Research Highlights

  • The effects of caloric education, trial-by-trial feedback, and their interaction on college-aged women’s abilities to estimate caloric content

    May 13, 2018 - 9:45pm

    Abstract

    Background: Many people track the caloric content of food, given its relevance to weight loss, gain, or maintenance. A better understanding of the psychological underpinnings of caloric-content estimation for unhealthy foods is of significant psychological and public-health interest. Purpose: This study investigated whether college-aged women could be trained to estimate the caloric content of unhealthy foods more accurately via exposure to caloric-content education, trial-by-trial feedback, and their combination. Methods: The caloric content of 84 foods was estimated and three transfer tasks were completed by 238 undergraduate women. Mixed-effects modeling estimated three aspects of the quadratic function linking true and judged caloric content: threshold (average perceived caloric content), linear sensitivity, and change in sensitivity as caloric content increases. Results: On average, college-aged women underestimated caloric content, demonstrated substantial linear sensitivity to caloric content, and did not show reduced sensitivity as caloric content increased. Trial-by-trial feedback, but not Caloric Education, enhanced caloric estimation on the first two tasks. Conclusions:   College-aged women show biased but sensitive judgments of the caloric content of unhealthy food presented in images. Initial evidence suggests that trial-by-trial feedback may be an efficacious strategy to enhance caloric-content estimation, at least when viewing static images of foods.

    To read the full paper:

    Rizk*, M.T., & Treat, T.A. (2018). The effects of caloric education, trial-by-trial feedback, and their interaction on college-aged women’s abilities to estimate caloric content.  Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 52, 606-612. (pdf)

  • Valenced and arousal-based affective evaluations of foods

    October 31, 2017 - 6:15pm

    Abstract

    We investigated the nutrient-specific and individual-specific validity of dual-process models of valenced and arousal-based affective evaluations of foods across the disordered eating spectrum. 283 undergraduate women provided implicit and explicit valence and arousal-based evaluations of 120 food photos with known nutritional information on structurally similar indirect and direct affectmisattribution procedures (AMP; Payne et al., 2005, 2008), and completed questionnaires assessing body mass index (BMI), hunger, restriction, and binge eating. Nomothetically, added fat and added sugar enhance evaluations of foods. Idiographically, hunger and binge eating enhance activation, whereas BMI and restriction enhance pleasantness. Added fat is salient for women who are heavier, hungrier, orwho restrict; added sugar is influential for less hungry women. Restriction relates only to valence, whereas binge eating relates only to arousal. Findings are similar across implicit and explicit affective evaluations, albeit stronger for explicit, providing modest support for dual-processmodels of affective evaluation of foods.

    To read the full paper:

    Woodward*, H.E., Treat, T.A., Cameron, D.C., & Yegorova*, V. (2017).  Valenced and arousal-based affective evaluations of foods.  Eating Behaviors, 24, 26-33. (pdf)

  • Enhancing the accuracy of men’s perceptions of women's sexual interest in the laboratory

    October 21, 2016 - 12:00am

    Abstract

    Objective: We evaluate a novel feedback-based procedure designed to enhance the accuracy of men’s judgments of women’s sexual interest in the laboratory, as misperception of sexual interest is implicated in male-initiated sexual aggression toward acquaintances. Method: In an initial rating task, 183 undergraduate males judged the sexual interest of women in full-body photographs; the women varied along sexual interest, clothing style, and attractiveness dimensions. Half of the participants received feedback on their ratings. In a related transfer task, participants indicated whether women in photographs would respond positively to a sexual advance. History of sexual aggression and rape-supportive attitudes were assessed. Results: Participants relied substantially on both affective and nonaffective cues when judging women’s sexual interest. High-risk men relied less on affect and more on attractiveness. Feedback enhanced focus on women’s affective cues and decreased focus on nonaffective cues for both low-risk and high-risk men. Feedback affected transfer performance indirectly, via altered cue usage in the training task. Conclusions: The current work documents high-risk men’s altered focus on women’s affective and nonaffective cues and provides encouraging support for the potential use of a cognitive training paradigm to enhance men’s perceptions of women’s sexual-interest cues, albeit to a lesser degree
    for high-risk men.

    To read the full paper:

    Treat, T.A., Viken, R.J., Farris*, C.A., & Smith*, J.R. (2016). Enhancing the accuracy of men’s perceptions of women's sexual interest in the laboratory.  Psychology of Violence, 6, 562-572. (pdf)

     

  • Effects of gender, rape-supportive attitudes, and explicit instruction on perceptions of women’s sexual interest

    October 21, 2016 - 12:00am

    Abstract

    Contemporary models of male-initiated sexual aggression toward female acquaintances implicate misperception of women’s sexual interest. This study investigated the effects of gender, rape-supportive attitudes and an instructional manipulation on college students’ sexual-interest judgments. Two hundred seventy-six women and 220 men judged the cues of momentary sexual interest expressed by photographed women; half received instruction on the differential validity of nonverbal cues of sexual interest for estimation of women’s momentary sexual interest. Participants also completed an assessment of rape-supportive attitudes. Overall, college students’ perceptions of women’s momentary sexual interest are compromised both nomothetically and idiographically. Both male and female college students relied not only on women’s nonverbal affect but also on the provocativeness of women’s clothing and attractiveness when judging women’s sexual interest. Men and women showed similar average ratings, but women relied more than men on women’s affect, whereas men relied more than women on women’s attractiveness. Both male and female students who endorsed more rape-supportive attitudes, relative to their peers, relied less on women’s affect and more on women’s clothing style and attractiveness. Explicit instruction regarding the greater validity of women’s affective than nonaffective cues enhanced focus on nonverbal affective cues and decreased focus on clothing style and attractiveness. Although higher rape-supportive attitudes predicted more deficits in processing cues of sexual interest, explicit instruction proved to be effective for both higher-risk and lower-risk participants. These findings highlight the generalizability of the well-established effects of explicit instruction on category learning to sexual perception and may point to procedures that eventually could be incorporated into augmented prevention programs for sexual aggression on college campuses.

    To read the full paper:

    Treat, T.A., Church*, E.K., & Viken, R.J. (in press).  Effects of gender, rape-supportive attitudes, and explicit instruction on perceptions of women’s sexual interest.  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. (pdf)