Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Social/Personality Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 102 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Mark Muraven

Committee Members

Julia M. Hormes, Drew A. Anderson


counter-regulatory eating, dietary restraint, evaluative readiness, i3 theory, weight fluctuations, Weight loss, Dieters, Food habits, Obesity, Hyperphagia

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


Counter-regulatory eating occurs when dieters engage in disinhibited overconsumption after a transgression of their diet. It may be one reason why efforts to control one's weight through dietary restriction so often fail. Unfortunately, the causal mechanisms behind this behavior are a source of contention. To resolve the disagreement over what exactly triggers counter-regulatory eating, this dissertation applied I3 theory, which posits that three factors interact to determine disinhibited behavior: instigation, impellance, and inhibition. Three-hundred twenty-two female undergraduate participants were recruited for participation in this study. Instigation was examined using the traditional milkshake pre-load, in which participants' perceptions of caloric content were manipulated. Impellance was examined using a mindset priming task, in which participants' memories for eating resistance or eating indulgence were activated, and inhibition was examined using a standardized typing task, which manipulated participants' levels of state self-control. It was hypothesized that only when participants were instigated by a high calorie milkshake, impelled by a goal for eating indulgence, and disinhibited by their depleted self-control would they engage in counter-regulatory eating in a final ad libitum taste test. This theory was not supported and a cohesive model to explain counter-regulatory eating remains elusive. Evidence was found for evaluative readiness in which the interaction between primed mindset and state self-control impacted consumption on the final taste test. The findings also suggested that dieting and especially a history of weight fluctuations are risk factors for overconsumption in the ad libitum eating situation. Thus, the discussion focuses on potential reasons for the failure of I3 theory and the importance of considering dieting behavior and the interaction between state self-control and current mindset in research and interventions on unhealthy eating behavior.