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Appetite. 2000 Aug;35(1):65-71.

Emotions and eating in everyday life.

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Institute for Psychology (I), University of W├╝rzburg, Germany.


This field study assessed emotional states experienced in everyday life and examined the subjective motivation to eat associated with these emotional states. Twenty-three female subjects rated their momentary emotional state and motivation to eat on 6 consecutive days at 11:00a.m., 2:00p.m., 5:00p.m., 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. A cluster analysis of the resulting 634 emotion profiles revealed three types of emotional states characterized by the labels "Anger-dominance", "Tension/Fear" and "Relaxation/Joy". A fourth cluster showing generally low levels of emotions was labelled "Unemotional state". Most of the self-rated motivations to eat were increased during periods of negative emotions. During negative emotions a heightened tendency to cope with these emotions through eating and more intense bodily symptoms of hunger were also reported. No differences in motivations to eat were found between the two negative emotion clusters or between relaxation/joy and the unemotional state. Results indicate the presence of "emotionally instrumental eating" in a non-clinical population under real life conditions. Physiological correlates of negative emotional states may be involved in emotionally instrumental eating.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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