You are here
Home > Blog > Addiction > Snacking Behavior And The Impact Of Mindset

Snacking Behavior And The Impact Of Mindset

Snacking Behavior And The Impact Of Mindset


This study delves into the impact of adopting a health-oriented versus hedonic mindset on daily snacking behavior in the context of an environment abundant in high-caloric and palatable foods, contributing to challenges in maintaining a healthy body weight. The hypothesis posited that a health mindset would result in reduced snacking, especially for individuals with high dietary restraint and less prominently for those with high trait self-control.

Over a three-week period, 111 female participants, with a body mass index range of 20–23.5, were randomly assigned to a one-week health or hedonic mindset using smartphone Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) conducted four times daily. Contrary to expectations, the study found that mindset did not significantly impact snacking behavior. Instead, both the intensity of cravings and the amount of snacks consumed decreased over time, unaffected by mindset, dietary restraint, or trait self-control. Importantly, the reduced craving and snacking were not attributed to decreased compliance, potentially being influenced by intensive monitoring or socially desirable responses.

Further analyses revealed that cravings were most pronounced in the late afternoon (3:30–5:00 PM), and irrespective of mindset conditions, the degree of craving correlated negatively with trait self-control.

In conclusion, the study suggests avenues for future research to explore the manipulation of monitoring levels and the development of individually tailored interventions to gain a deeper understanding and influence over snacking behaviors.


This comprehensive study delves into the intricate dynamics of daily snacking behavior within the context of the contemporary obesogenic environment, where tempting, high-caloric snacks are ubiquitously available. The primary focus is on how an individual’s mindset—particularly, whether they adopt a health-oriented or hedonic perspective—may influence their snacking habits. The rationale stems from the recognition that maintaining a healthy body weight has become increasingly challenging amid the pervasive availability of indulgent snacks.

The study acknowledges the existing disparity in research findings regarding the relationship between snack consumption and weight fluctuations. It attributes this incongruity to methodological variations, including diverse assessment approaches, small sample sizes, gender differences, and reliance on retrospective self-reports. By recognizing the need for more nuanced exploration, the study seeks to contribute valuable insights into the multifaceted interplay between mindset, individual traits (such as dietary restraint and self-control), and daily snacking behavior.

Furthermore, the research underscores the changing landscape of snack foods, noting a shift toward products that are both sugary and fatty. This transformation aligns with the broader obesogenic trend in the environment, emphasizing the importance of investigating not only the factors influencing snacking behavior but also strategies to counteract the obesogenic influences.

Crucially, the study employs sophisticated methodologies, including smartphone-based Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) and Ecological Momentary Interventions (EMI). EMA enables the continuous, real-time assessment of participants’ snacking behaviors, providing ecologically valid data compared to traditional approaches. Meanwhile, EMI serves as a tool to manipulate participants’ mindsets, presenting an innovative way to influence behavior in daily life. The combined use of these approaches positions the study at the forefront of research methodologies, allowing for a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of the complex interplay between mindset and snacking behavior.

The core hypothesis revolves around the expected impact of a one-week mindset manipulation—specifically, whether adopting a health or hedonic mindset—on participants’ daily snacking behavior. Anticipated outcomes include reduced cravings and snacking in the health mindset group compared to the hedonic mindset group. Importantly, the study hypothesizes that these effects will be modulated by individual traits, with higher dietary restraint intensifying the impact of the health mindset and higher trait self-control potentially mitigating its influence.

In essence, this study aspires to contribute valuable insights that extend beyond the conventional paradigms of snacking behavior research. By leveraging advanced methodologies and considering the multifaceted influences on individuals’ mindsets, traits, and environmental factors, it aims to provide a nuanced understanding that can inform strategies for promoting healthier snacking habits in the face of an obesogenic environment.


This study focused on investigating the impact of mindset—specifically, a health-oriented versus hedonic perspective—on the daily snacking behavior of 111 female participants aged 18–35, with a body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 23.5, and without eating disorders. To ensure a controlled sample, a limited BMI range was set, and participants were required to have a minimum compliance rate of 75% in answering Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) prompts during the three-week study period.

Of the 367 initially interested volunteers, 256 were excluded due to reasons such as low compliance, technical issues, or dropout. The final sample consisted mainly of university students, with a mean compliance rate of 92.81%. Participants were recruited through social media and a recruitment company. Power analysis determined that a minimum of 46 participants per group was needed for statistical validity.

The study employed a randomized allocation of participants into either the health or hedonic mindset condition. The Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) protocol involved participants reporting snacking behaviors four times a day for three weeks using a smartphone app. Three dependent variables were assessed: craving degree, craving amount, and snacking amount. The high-caloric snack categories were represented by pictures, and participants were instructed to report their cravings and consumption.

The mindset manipulation occurred during the second week of the EMA protocol, with participants receiving mindset-specific notification messages four times daily. Health mindset messages emphasized the health aspects of foods or the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, while hedonic mindset messages focused on the pleasurable properties of foods. Importantly, participants were debriefed after the study, and compensation was provided.

This detailed methodology aimed to explore the nuanced relationship between mindset and snacking behavior, considering individual traits such as self-control and dietary restraint. The study’s design, adherence to ethical considerations, and thorough participant screening contribute to its robustness and potential to provide valuable insights into the complex interplay of psychological factors influencing daily snacking habits.

Data Analysis

The study implemented a minimum compliance threshold of 75% throughout its three-week duration to ensure data reliability. To assess potential variations in compliance across the study phases, a mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) tested the effects of time (pre vs. post) and condition (hedonic vs. health mindset) on the average compliance rate (%).

Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) data analysis employed a 2 (pre vs. post) × 2 (hedonic vs. health mindset) analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Dietary restraint (RS) or self-control (BSCS) was introduced as a mean-centered covariate in separate ANCOVAs due to their correlation, preventing simultaneous inclusion to avoid multicollinearity issues. Preregistered tests for moderation by RS or BSCS were conducted for each ANCOVA, which explored three dependent variables: craving degree, craving amount, and snacking amount, resulting in six ANCOVAs.

Additional analyses focused on investigating the influence of the time of day on snacking behavior. Data from four time points were averaged over the three-week period and subjected to 4 (time points: 8:30–10:00 AM, 12:00 noon to 1:30 PM, 3:30–5:00 PM, 7:00–8:30 PM) × 2 (health vs. hedonic mindset) ANOVAs. Notably, participants who did not provide data for each time point were excluded from these analyses.

Correlational analyses involved computing Pearson’s correlations between dietary restraint (RS) and trait self-control (BSCS) and the dependent variables (craving degree, craving amount, and snacking amount). Correlations were calculated for the entire sample and separately for each mindset condition. It’s worth noting that the two moderators, dietary restraint and self-control, were already included as covariates in the main analyses. These rigorous analytical approaches were undertaken to explore potential relationships and patterns within the dataset comprehensively.


The presented results highlight key findings from the study, emphasizing that all means and standard deviations in the figures are raw and uncorrected for any covariate.

Compliance Rate:

– The analysis focused on participants meeting the 75% compliance threshold in each study phase (n=111).

– The average compliance rate was 92.81%, with no significant difference between pre- and post-mindset manipulation.

– Compliance did not differ between health and hedonic mindset conditions, and the time × mindset interaction was not significant.

Craving Degree:

– Involving all participants (n=111), the degree of craving decreased over the study, supported by a main effect of time.

– The ANCOVA with dietary restraint (RS) and self-control (BSCS) both showed a significant reduction in craving degree, with no other effects reaching significance.

Craving Amount:

– This analysis included 101 participants, revealing a marginal main effect of time, indicating a decrease in craving amount over the study.

– Both ANCOVAs with RS and BSCS displayed similar results, with no other effects reaching significance.

Snacking Amount:

– Involving 107 participants, the study found a significant main effect of time, indicating a decrease in snacking amount.

– ANCOVAs with RS and BSCS both supported this finding, with no other significant effects.

Additional Analyses – Time Point of the Day:

– Analyses for craving degree, craving amount, and snacking amount indicated a gradual increase peaking in the late afternoon (3:30–5:00 PM).

– Follow-up t-tests showed significantly higher craving in the late afternoon compared to other times.

– No other main or interaction effects reached significance in these analyses.

Correlational Analyses:

– Correlations between dietary restraint (RS) and trait self-control (BSCS) and the dependent variables were non-significant within each mindset condition.

– Across mindset conditions, trait self-control (BSCS) negatively correlated with craving degree, while no other correlations reached significance.

In summary, the study demonstrates a consistent decrease in craving and snacking amounts over time, irrespective of mindset conditions. The analyses provide a nuanced understanding of the interplay between compliance, craving, and snacking behaviors, contributing valuable insights to the field.


The study aimed to test the hypothesis that individuals in a health mindset would exhibit reduced cravings and snacking compared to those in a hedonic mindset. Contrary to expectations, the main findings indicate that mindset did not significantly influence snacking behavior, and this lack of effect was not moderated by trait self-control or dietary restraint.

Key findings include:

1. No Mindset Effect on Snacking Behavior:

   – The study did not find a significant impact of mindset on craving or snacking behavior in daily life, diverging from previous promising laboratory results.

   – The challenges of replicating mindset effects outside the controlled laboratory environment were acknowledged, emphasizing the need for considering real-life factors such as social interactions and emotions.

2. Time-Related Changes:

   – Craving degree and snacking amount consistently decreased over the study period, independent of mindset manipulation.

   – Compliance with the Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) protocol remained high, suggesting that the observed changes were not due to reduced adherence.

   – Intensive monitoring of snacking behavior might explain the decline, as participants were closely monitored four times a day for three consecutive weeks.

3. Time Points of the Day:

   – Participants exhibited significantly higher craving levels in the afternoon (3:30–5:00 PM) compared to other times.

   – This aligns with previous studies indicating elevated snack food craving and intake during the afternoon, providing valuable insights for future interventions targeting specific time periods.

4. Correlational Analyses:

   – Trait self-control showed a negative correlation with craving degree, consistent with prior laboratory studies emphasizing the influence of trait self-control on resisting high-caloric food temptations and weight management.

The unexpected findings prompt a reevaluation of mindset manipulation effectiveness in daily life contexts, suggesting a shift towards interventions focusing on unintentional behaviors such as habits and impulses. The study also highlights the potential importance of state self-control over trait self-control in the context of EMA studies investigating daily life behaviors. Additionally, the observed time-related patterns in craving and snacking may inform future interventions tailored to specific periods of the day. Overall, these results contribute to the nuanced understanding of mindset effects on snacking behavior in real-life settings.

Oncology Related Tools


Latest Research


About Author

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply