The present study investigated automatic/implicit and controlled/explicit processes in snacking behavior. Participants who were bothered by their habit of eating snacks were compared to participants with another habit. A reaction time task was used to assess implicit action tendencies in which participants had to pull or push a joystick in reaction to food and neutral stimuli on the screen. With regard to appetitive action tendencies, compared to the controls, participants who were bothered by snack eating were slower to push food stimuli. On a semantic priming task to assess implicit evaluations, they exhibited less interference between positive self-control targets and food stimuli, suggesting a weaker association between self-control and food. No group differences were found in food-taste associations or explicit taste ratings. Results suggest that snacking behavior seems to be due to both implicit appetitive action tendencies and weak associations with self-control. However, they also indicate that explicit tastiness evaluations of food do not seem to affect snacking behavior.
Maas, J., Keijsers, G. P. J., Rinck, M., Sharbanee, J., Vroling, M. S., & Backer, E. S. (2017). Implicit action tendencies and evaluations in unwanted snacking behaviour. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 10(1), 79-91. https://doi.org/0.1521/ijct.2017.10.1.79