Reduce temptation or resist it? Experienced temptation mediates the relationship between implicit evaluations of unhealthy snack foods and subsequent intake
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A more negative implicit evaluation of unhealthy food stimuli and a more positive implicit evaluation of a weight-management goal have been shown to predict lower consumption of unhealthy food. However, the associations between these evaluations, temptation to indulge and consumption of unhealthy food remain unclear. The current study investigated whether temptation would mediate the relationship between implicit food and goal evaluations and consumption (resembling an antecedent-focused route to self-control of eating), or whether those evaluations would moderate the relationship between temptation and consumption (resembling a response-focused route). A sample of 156 women (17–25 years), who tried to manage their weight through healthy eating, completed two implicit association tasks assessing implicit food and goal evaluations, respectively. Intake of four energy-dense snack foods was measured in a task disguised as a taste test, and participants reported the strength of experienced temptation to indulge in the snacks offered. Negative implicit food evaluation was associated with lower snack intake, and temptation mediated this relationship. Implicit goal evaluation was unrelated to both temptation strength and snack consumption. The findings contribute to an understanding of how negative implicit unhealthy food evaluation relates to lower consumption, namely through the mediation of temptation to indulge in those foods.