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Heatherton and Baumeister (1991) proposed that individuals engage in binge eating in an attempt to escape aversive self-awareness (escape theory). The current study sought to test the escape theory prediction that individuals who experience a stressor and blame themselves will consume more food than individuals experience a stressor and blame another person. This hypothesis was tested in an experimental study among 155 female undergraduate students who experienced a stressor and were randomly assigned to one of three groups: an internal attribution group (blame stressor on self), external attribution group (blame stressor on another participant), and a control group (no one to blame the stressor on). Following the stressor, participants were given access to chocolate, and told to consume as much as they needed to complete a bogus taste test. Contrary to escape theory predictions, there were no statistically significant differences between groups in the amount of chocolate consumed. In an adequately powered study, the findings did not conform to escape theory prediction. Limitations of the study include use of a nonclinical population and access to only one type of food (chocolate).
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Thomas Joiner, Professor Directing Dissertation; Patricia Martin, Outside Committee Member; Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, Committee Member; Dianne Tice, Committee Member; Jon Maner, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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