How do I look? Focusing attention on the outside body reduces responsiveness to internal signals in food intake

Veer, E. van de; Herpen, E. van; Trijp, J.C.M. van


The current study investigates the relationship between focusing on body appearance and the ability to adjust food consumption according to feelings of satiety. Based on a resource perspective, we propose that focusing on outward appearance negatively affects people's ability to respond to satiety signals. Specifically, we argue that focusing on appearance takes up attentional resources required for sensing and relying on physiological satiety cues in food consumption. The findings of two experiments support this and show that focusing on appearance through a short mirror exposure (Experiment 1) or by looking at advertisements of models (Experiment 2) interferes with people's ability to compensate for previous consumption (Experiment 1) and leads them to rely less on satiety signals in their eating behavior (Experiment 2). These findings suggest that an emphasis on outer body appearance reduces people's reliance on satiety cues.