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J Health Psychol. 2006 Sep;11(5):655-68.

'When suppression backfires': the ironic effects of suppressing eating-related thoughts.

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Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


Based on Wegner's Ironic Processing Theory, this study examines the effects of suppressing eating-related thoughts in a sample of 77 female students. A distinction was made between disinhibited restrainers (high dietary restraint/high disinhibition), inhibited restrainers (high dietary restraint/low disinhibition) and low restrainers. Results indicate that disinhibited restrainers used thought suppression more often and were the only group to show a rebound effect for eating-related thoughts after suppression. No effects of suppression on willingness and desire to eat emerged. Hence, thought suppression may be counterproductive at least for a subgroup of restrainers and may fuel eating-related preoccupations. More research is required to evaluate effects on eating behaviour.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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