Characteristics of eating in anger, fear, sadness and joy

  • Macht M
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The influences of emotions on eating were investigated. One-hundred and seven female and 103 male subjects were asked to report how various characteristics of eating could change during the emotions of anger, fear, sadness and joy. Subjects completed a questionnaire of 33 items for each emotion and a food deprivation condition. A factor analysis of the items answered with respect to food deprivation yielded foul factors which were labelled hunger, impulsive eating, sensory eating and hedonic eating. ANCOVAs showed main effects of emotions upon each factor. Single comparisons showed that: (1) subjects reported to experience higher levels of hunger during anger and joy than during fear and sadness; (2) impulsive eating and sensory eating were rated higher during anger than during the other emotions; and (3) hedonic eating was rated higher during joy than during the other emotions. Results did not indicate any differential influences upon eating between fear and sadness. Women reported to experience higher tendencies of impulsive eating and sensory eating than men during anger and sadness. Eating scores of negative emotions correlated low and positive with body mass index, low and negative with dietary restraint. The differential effects of emotions on characteristics of eating may be due to differences of the examined emotions in frequency of occurrence, physiological correlates and motivational properties.

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  • M. Macht

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