As Pleasure Unfolds: Hedonic Responses to Tempting Food

December 2010 | ,

Why do chronic dieters often violate their dieting goals? One possibility is that they experience stronger hedonic responses to tempting food than normal eaters do. We scrutinized hedonic processing in dieters and normal eaters (a) by manipulating food preexposure and (b) by assessing both immediate and delayed hedonic responses to tempting food with an adapted affect-misattribution procedure. Without food preexposure, dieters showed less positive hedonic responses than normal eaters (Study 1). When preexposed to tempting-food stimuli, however, dieters exhibited more positive delayed hedonic responses than normal eaters (Studies 1 and 2). Furthermore, delayed hedonic responding was meaningfully related to self-reported power of food and state cravings (Study 2). These findings suggest that dieters experience difficulties in down-regulating hedonic affect when in a “hot” state and that self-regulation research may benefit from a greater emphasis on temporal dynamics rather than static differences.



  • Wilhelm Hoffman
  • Guido M. van Koningsbruggen
  • Wolfgang Stroebe
  • Henk Aarts


Psychological Science (Sage Publications Inc.)