Discrepancies Between Implicit and Explicit Motivation and Unhealthy Eating Behavior


  • Veronika Job is now at the Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

  • We are grateful to Snjezana Kovjanic and Annina Scherrer, who assisted in data collection.

concerning this article should be addressed to Veronika Job, Department of Psychology, Jordan Hall, Bldg. 420, Stanford, CA 94305. Email: vjob@stanford.edu.


ABSTRACT Many people change their eating behavior as a consequence of stress. One source of stress is intrapersonal psychological conflict as caused by discrepancies between implicit and explicit motives. In the present research, we examined whether eating behavior is related to this form of stress. Study 1 (N=53), a quasi-experimental study in the lab, showed that the interaction between the implicit achievement motive disposition and explicit commitment toward an achievement task significantly predicts the number of snacks consumed in a consecutive taste test. In cross-sectional Study 2 (N=100), with a sample of middle-aged women, overall motive discrepancy was significantly related to diverse indices of unsettled eating. Regression analyses revealed interaction effects specifically for power and achievement motivation and not for affiliation. Emotional distress further partially mediated the relationship between the overall motive discrepancy and eating behavior.