Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Akira Miyake

Second Advisor

Yuko Munakata

Third Advisor

Alice Healy

Fourth Advisor

Tiffany Ito

Fifth Advisor

Katie Siek


Restrained eating refers to individuals who consistently attempt to limit their intake of calories to reduce body weight (Herman & Polivy,1980). Restrained eaters have been noted for failures at converting dieting intentions into eating behavior (Stroebe, 2008). The primary goal of these studies was to determine what differentially contributes to eating behavior in women with highly restrained eating styles when: a) eating intentions alone do not predict intake, and b) someone is exposed to temptation. Given the self-regulatory nature of eating behavior, individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) was expected to moderate the effect of restrained eating on food intake, over and above the impact of intentions. WMC was also expected to moderate the effect of implicit food activation, which has been shown to influence food choices. It was found that WMC moderated the effects of restrained eating and implicit food activation on self-report intake of unhealthy food. Unrestrained eaters ate less unhealthy food as WMC increased, and this effect was even stronger when implicit food activation was lower. WMC also moderated the effect of restrained eating and implicit food activation on intake of M&Ms. When WMC was lower, restrained eaters ate more M&Ms as implicit food activation increased. There was no effect of restrained eating or implicit food activation when WMC was higher. These results show the importance of considering the balance of control processes (i.e., WMC), explicit and implicit attitudes in determining food intake. The practical implications for regulating dieting and eating behavior are discussed.