The influence of individual reinforcement sensitivity differences on the impact of television junk food and healthy food advertisements

Samantha Byrnes (2011). The influence of individual reinforcement sensitivity differences on the impact of television junk food and healthy food advertisements Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Samantha Byrnes
Thesis Title The influence of individual reinforcement sensitivity differences on the impact of television junk food and healthy food advertisements
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Natalie Loxton
Total pages 101
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary It is crucial to understand the impact of television food advertising on food intake given Australia‟s current high level of exposure to food commercials. Consideration of the elements of Gray‟s Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) may provide insight into the individual differences in response to food advertising. In Gray‟s theory, the Behavioural Activation System (BAS) is implicated as the structure that motivates approach behaviours in response to conditioned rewarding stimuli. This study aims to extend previous research using Gray‟s RST to investigate the interactive effects of BAS reactivity and exposure to television “healthy food” and “junk food” advertising on individual‟s “urge to eat”. The effects of television “junk food” and “healthy food” advertising are investigated through an experimental procedure in which participants are assigned to conditions in which they view television commercials for either energy dense “junk foods”, healthy foods or non-food items. Participants also completed a number of self-report measures assessing reward sensitivity and urge to eat (before and after the television program). It was hypothesised that BAS would show a strong positive association with desire to eat in the energy-dense commercials condition, and no association (or weaker) in the healthy food commercials and no association in the no food condition. As hypothesised, individuals high in BAS in the junk food condition showed a significant increase in urge to eat following the video. Those low in BAS showed an unexpected increase in urge to eat in the no-food condition. Both high and low BAS individuals showed an increase in the “healthy food” condition. These results were only evident in Caucasian participants. These results support the proposal that individual differences in reward sensitivity place such individuals at greater risk of over-eating when exposed to images of appetitive, high calorie food. Implications such as the focus on personality in treating eating disorders, as well as increased advertising of the rewarding properties in healthy food advertisement are discussed.
Keyword Junk food advertising
RST

 
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Created: Tue, 12 Jun 2012, 11:11:33 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology