Self-esteem and the effect of feedback on laboratory and later eating in normal weight and overweight women
This study tested a cognitive-experiential self-theory (Epstein, 1973; 1992; 1994) and escape from awareness (Heatherton & Baumeister, 1991) model of self-esteem mediated stress-induced overeating in normal weight and overweight college women. Overweight and normal weight women were randomly assigned favorable, unfavorable or neutral personality feedback and were administered the Multidimensional Self-esteem Inventory (O'Brian & Epstein, 1988), the State Self-esteem Scale (Heatherton & Polivy, 1991), and the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (Stunkard & Messick, 1985), followed by a pudding taste test and a follow-up assessment of naturalistic evening eating. Type of feedback affected state self-esteem, pudding eating, and naturalistic eating differently for normal weight and overweight women. Self-esteem was somewhat supported as a mediating variable, with low self-esteem overweight women responding differently from high self-esteem overweight women on both laboratory and naturalistic assessments of eating. Restraint, disinhibition, and susceptibility to hunger were associated with eating more at follow up, and did not relate to pudding eating, but a pattern of yoga dieting did predict laboratory eating. The need to further explore the effect of threats to self-esteem on eating in overweight women is discussed.