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J Abnorm Psychol. 2004 Feb;113(1):90-8.

To eat or not to eat: implications of the attentional myopia model for restrained eaters.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychology, Los Angeles, CA 19081-1397, USA. mann@psych.ucla.edu


The attentional myopia model of behavioral control was tested in a study of food consumption by chronic dieters. According to the model, when individuals' attentional capacity is limited, their behavior will be disproportionately influenced by highly salient internal and external cues to the exclusion of more distal stimuli. In situations that normally feature conflicting behavioral pressures, such a state of narrowed attention is likely to result in abnormally disinhibited behavior when cues promoting action are more salient and to result in abnormally restrained behavior when inhibiting cues are more salient. In addition to supporting the predictions of the model, this study provided the first evidence for enhanced behavioral control under conditions of limited attention. Participants' responses to a thought-reporting measure also provided evidence for the role played by attentional myopia in the control of eating. Implications for a broad array of regulatory successes and failures are discussed.

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