The impact of subliminal abandonment and unification cues on eating behavior

Authors

  • Glenn Waller DPhil,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mental Health, St. George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, London, United Kingdom
    • Department of Mental Health, St. George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SO17 0RE, United Kingdom
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  • Gabrielle Barter Clin Psy D

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Background

Subliminal presentation of visual abandonment cues leads to greater levels of eating, despite a lack of conscious awareness of the information involved. The current study examined whether this behavioral impact can be countered by the subliminal presentation of contradictory, counterschematic information (unification cues).

Method

Ninety-six nonclinical women were presented with subliminal abandonment cues, either preceded or followed by neutral or unification cues. The dependent variable was the amount eaten after the task.

Results

Presenting subliminal unification information before or after the subliminal abandonment cue significantly reduced the amount eaten (relative to the impact of neutral cues).

Discussion

These findings are consistent with a model where preconscious processing of unification cues has the effect deactivating abandonment schemas, either through inoculation or restoration. Preconscious presentation of unification cues might play a role in the broader cognitive-behavioral treatment of bulimic behaviors. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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