Weight and social norms: Predicting palatable food intake in first-year college women
1 online resource (55 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Weight gain in first year university students may be of particular concern in the development of lifelong overweight or obesity. Both Social Facilitation Theory and the Norms Matching Approach have been invoked to explain the augmentation of caloric consumption in social scenarios, yet neither paradigm is sufficient to explain observed patterns of social eating. The present experimental study attempted to resolve these two discrete approaches by hypothesizing that social facilitation of eating works by invoking stricter adherence to social norms. More specifically we investigated whether first-year, first-time college women’s palatable food intake was adjusted to match researcher-set consumption norms while in groups of two or in two possible alone conditions (videotaped vs. not), and whether the weight status of participants affected adherence to these norms. Ninety-two women recruited through the University subject pool were asked to complete a survey on their interests and activities either alone, alone and videotaped or with a partner and were provided cookies purportedly as a snack during the survey. Normative consumption was set by a research assistant who stated how many cookies most participants ate, giving three possible manipulations (1, 4 or 7 cookies) and caloric consumption was measured. Neither norm condition nor BMI/weight status were found to be significant predictors of caloric consumption, however, as expected participants who were alone but told they were being observed by a video camera decreased their consumption by about 107-116 calories, depending on model, compared to those participants who were alone and unobserved after controlling for hunger, sociability and dietary restraint. Contrary to predictions, however, paired individuals also decreased consumption but to a lesser extent than those alone but observed by video camera, by about 65 calories. Future directions and limitations are discussed.
Reeve, CharlieCoffman, Maren
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2015.
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