Selective information processing and schematic content related to eating behavior

  • Dorothy D. Tucker
  • David G. Schlundt


An adaptation of the Stroop color-naming task was used to investigate selective information processing related to eating behavior in 90 undergraduate women. This study differed from previous studies by (a) treating eating behavior as a continuous variable and (b) looking at five separate categories of words including color, neutral, food, body shape, and other emotionally salient words. We did not find a strong pattern of relation between the Stroop task and eating and body image measures. Results suggest that in a nonclinical population, direct methods of accessing cognitions related to eating may be more fruitful than indirect measures.

Key words

body image eating behavior personality assessment cognitive schema information processing 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beck, A. T. (1978) Depression Inventory. Philadelphia: Center for Cognitive Therapy.Google Scholar
  2. Ben-Tovim, D. I., & Walker, M. K. (1991). Further evidence for the Stroop test as a quantitative measure of psychopathology in eating disorders.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10, 609–613.Google Scholar
  3. Ben-Tovim, D. I., Walker, M. K., Fok, D., & Yap, E. (1989). An adaptation of the Stroop test for measuring shape and food concerns in eating disorders: A quantitative measure of psychopathology?International Journal of Eating Disorders, 8, 681–687.Google Scholar
  4. Cantor, N. (1990). From thought to behavior: “Having” and “Doing” in the study of personality and cognition.American Psychologist, 45, 735–750.Google Scholar
  5. Carver, C. S., & Scheir, M. F. (1988).Information processing: Perspectives on personality. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  6. Channon, S., & Hayward, A. (1990). The effect of short-term fasting on processing of food cues in normal subjects.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 9, 447–452.Google Scholar
  7. Channon, S, Hemsley, D. R., & deSilva, P. (1988). Selective processing of food words in anorexia nervosa.British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 27, 259–260.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Edgette J. S., & Prout, M. F. (1989). Treatment of anorexia nervosa. In A. Freeman, K. M. Simon, L. E. Beutler, & H. Arkowitz (Eds.),Comprehensive handbook of cognitive therapy (pp. 367–384). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  9. Eldredge, K., Wilson, G. T., & Whaley, A. (1990). Failure, self-evaluation, and feeling fat in women.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 9, 37–50.Google Scholar
  10. Fairburn, C. G., Cooper, P. J., Cooper, M. J., McKenna, F. P., & Anastasiades, P. (1991). Selective information processing in bulimia nervosa.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10, 415–422.Google Scholar
  11. Garner, D. M., Olmstead, M. P., & Polivy, J. (1983). The Eating Disorder Inventory: A measure of cognitive-behavioral dimensions of anorexia nervosa and bulimia. In P. L. Darby, P. E. Garfinkel, D. M. Garner, & D. V. Coscina (Eds.),Anorexia Nervosa: Recent developments in research (pp. 173–184). New York: Alan R. Liss.Google Scholar
  12. Goldberg, J. O., & Shaw, B. F. (1989). Measurement of cognition. In A. Freeman, K. M. Simon, L. E. Beutler, & H. Arkowitz (Eds.),Comprehensive handbook of cognitive therapy (pp. 367–384). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gotlib, I. H., & McCann, C. D. (1984). Construct accessibility and depression: An examination of cognitive and affective factors.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 427–439.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hollon, S. D., & Garber, J. (1988). Cognitive therapy. In L. Y. Abramson (Ed.),Social cognition and clinical psychology (pp. 204–253). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  15. Jones, B. P., Duncan, C. C., Browers, P., & Mirsky, A. F. (1991). Cognition in eating disorders.Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 13(5), 711–728.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. King, G. A., Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (1991). Cognitive aspects of restraint: Effects on person memory.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10, 313–321.Google Scholar
  17. Kucera, H. & Francis, W. N. (1967).Computational analysis of present-day American English. Providence, RI: Brown University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Markus, H. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the self.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 63–78.Google Scholar
  19. Markus, H., Hamill, R., & Sentis, K. P. (1987). Thinking fat: Self-schemas for body weight and the processing of weight relevant information.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17, 50–71.Google Scholar
  20. Mathews, A., & MacLeod, C. (1985). Selective processing of threat cues in anxiety states.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 23, 563–569.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1983). Social desirability scales: More substance than style.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 882–888.Google Scholar
  22. Neimeyer, G. J., & Khouzam, N. (1985). A repertory grid study of restrained eaters.British Journal of Medical Psychology, 58, 365–367.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes.Psychological Review, 84, 231–259.Google Scholar
  24. Ruggiero, L., Williamson, D. A., Davis, C. J., Carey, M. P., & Schlundt, D. G. (1988). Forbidden Food Survey: Measure of bulimic's anticipated emotional reactions to specific foods.Addictive Behaviors, 13, 267–274.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Schlundt, D. G., & Bell, C. (1993). Body image resting system: A microcomputer program for assessing body image.Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 15, 267–285.Google Scholar
  26. Schlundt, D. G., & Johnson, W. G. (1990). Asseessment in eating disorders. InEating disorders: Assessment and treatment (p. 181–236).Google Scholar
  27. Schotte, D. E., McNally, R. J., & Turner, M. L. (1990). A dichotic listening analysis of body weight concern in Bulimia Nervosa.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 9, 109–113.Google Scholar
  28. Smith, E. R., & Miller, F. D. (1978). Limits of perception of cognitive processes: A reply to Nisbett and Wilson.Psychological Review, 85, 355–362.Google Scholar
  29. Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643–661.Google Scholar
  30. Stunkard, A. J., & Messick, S. (1985). The three-factor eating questionnaire to measure dietary restraint, disinhibition, and hunger.Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 29, 71–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Vitousek, K., Daly, J., & Heiser, C. (1991). Reconstructing the internal world of the eating-disordered individual: Overcoming denial and distortion in self-report.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10, 647–666.Google Scholar
  32. Vitousek, K., & Hollon, S. (1990). The investigation of schematic content and processing in eating disorders.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 191–214.Google Scholar
  33. Watts, F. N., McKenna, F. P., Sharrock, R., & Trezise, L. (1986). Color naming of phobia-related words.British Journal of Psychology, 77, 97–108.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy D. Tucker
    • 1
  • David G. Schlundt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashville

Personalised recommendations