p.p1 questionnaires (DEBQ) on dietary restraint, emotional eating and

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The studies purpose was to investigate whether a healthier alternative for example an apple, was a better option to elevate a positive mood and various emotions, rather than chocolate. 

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Matcht and Dettmer used a voluntary sample of 37 healthy, normal-weight (mean body mass index of 21.6) German female participants between the ages 19 and 30, to assess emotional changes after eating chocolate everyday. They were selected through a psychology course in a German university, and were given dutch eating behaviour  questionnaires (DEBQ) on dietary restraint, emotional eating and external eating. Personality was assessed by the NEO-FFI (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness—Five Factor Inventory). (Costa & McRae, 1992)
The effects of foods were examined in a repeated measures design The independent variables were chocolate vs. apple vs. nothing. And the time; 5, 30, 60, 90 min after eating, were the measured factors.

Four trails were spread over six days, were each participant had a different eating pattern of the two food conditions. 
Participants were given four apples and four chocolate bars (of different types), each chocolate was 270 calories and each apple was 90 calories. Participants were also given 12 envelopes, 12 answer sheets and a timer. 
They were instructed by the experimenter to complete a set of answers sheets at 10:00am till 11:30am and another set at 4:00pm till 5:30pm. After each set they were instructed whether they had to  eat an apple or chocolate or nothing (5 mins pause). After this the timer was started, and beeped at 5, 30, 60, 90 mins. later. 
Upon each beep a 3 min. answer sheet was administered. A further    instruction was given, that participants cant eat until final answer sheet was completed. 

A bipolar scale of 0 (very bad) to 10 (very good) was rated for mood, a unipolar scale of 1(very bad) to 7 (very good), 1(very bad) to 7 (very good) for pleasantness of the food. 

The findings showed that chocolate decreased tiredness compared to eating nothing and apples. No effects of food or any food X time interactions were rated very low. Chocolate was rated as more pleasant to eat than apple. 
The conclusion of the study is that there are both negative and positive effects to emotional changes in participants. Chocolate induced a positive mood in the participants, but also induced feelings of guilt which may have , and it was concluded that factors such as sensory pleasure contributed to a larger extent to the positive effects of chocolate consumption, which was similar to the findings of Macht et al., (2005) and also of, Rozin, (1999). 

There are a number of weaknesses in this study. Firstly the study design used was the repeated measures design, which means that the sample size was a limited group of 37 female participants, this does not represent everyone and cannot be generalised to the whole female/male population. But rather only apply to the female participants in this German university, as we cannot be sure that other women or men would have the same results. 

Furthermore variables such as periods cant be controlled, and some of the participants were close to their cycles, “Nine participants were in the first, eight in the second, eleven in the third, and nine in the fourth quarter of their menstrual cycle.” It can be assumed that pre-period cravings might have played a part in inducing hunger, and making the females more emotional, which would manipulate the overall finding of the study. Comfort eating during pre-periods is common and may have contributed to the mood and stress. 

Further limitations of this study is that it is difficult to measure accuracy as there are many factors to contemplate, such as the consistency of the participants recording their own results. The experimenter cant be certain that the participant is following the instructions correctly and keeping up with the procedures of the study. This is because there were many instructions and requirements for the participants. 
The requirements could all have variables that will effect them e.g., the time of the day the answer sheets should be answered. It cant be guaranteed that all participants would wake up by 10:00 am to complete the sheet, or that they weren’t in an exam, or busy during that specific time. In addition to this, upon each time the timer bleeped, it can’t be guaranteed that the participants took exactly 3 minutes to answer the answer sheets. Some may be slower than others or distracted by external factors such as noise. 
Further more, the instruction that no eating should be done until the final answer sheet is answered didn’t score a full 100 percent, as clearly the participants could not follow these instructions consistently.  

Questionnaires are subject to distortions of truth, because participants may want to appear in the best light, or because they may not be interested enough to think about their answers carefully enough. The experimenter cannot control how thoughtful a participant is of the study and thus this is seen as a disadvantage. Mumford and Whitehouse (1988) for example, conducted a study to test the eating disorders in school girls and found no difference in a body shape questionnaire, which may have been due to the participants thinking they had to answer in a certain way. 

A further criticism of Macht and Dettmer’s study is that Body Mass Index is used to test what category of weight the female participants fell into. BMI is known to have many limiting factors that restrict accuracy. One of the factors is that BMI mistakes muscle mass as fat and gives a higher score. The participant will associate a higher BMI  with negative change, but the BMI does not record a good change in the body. The participants may associate an increased BMI with negativity and increase their feelings of guilt, which affects the overall results of the study. 

Feelings of guilt could have triggered feelings of increased stress levels in participants, which could cause them to eat less as they may feel that their carbohydrates intake is affecting their appearance. Past research has shown that emotional stress can cause Humans and animals to eat less. (Stone and Brownall 1994, Robbins and Fray 1980) 

It is questionable whether the experimenters took mental health into consideration. Macht and Dettmer described the participants as physically healthy but did not comment on the mental health of the participants, which means reliability is lacking in this aspect of the study. Mental health can affect the participants mood, which is an important factor that is measured in this study. For example, anxiety and depression can cause stress eating in the individual. 

Although the study showed that the participants overall felt more guilty when consuming chocolate bars, it did not emphasise on the depression or the stress that followed the guilty feeling. 
Research by Hetherington and Macdiarmid, 1993; Macdiarmid and Hetherington, 1995;  Tuomisto et al., 1999, also have shown that chocolate consumption lead to feelings of guilt, but non, similarly to Macht and Dettmer 2006, have shown how chocolate or unhealthy food can lead to depression in an individual. 

Another limitation of the design used is that it may be subject to order effects. Participants were given 12 envelopes selected by the experimenter, which contained what they had to eat randomly in four trails over 6 executive days. This means that it was possible for the participant, for example, to randomly get three chocolate bars in a row or three apples in a row, or they could have got apple first then later a chocolate (which is a sweeter variable) which may affect their moods. However, this limitation can be taken care of by using counterbalancing. The experimenter could split the participants into two groups and assign each group with both healthy and unhealthy variable in different orders. An example is, Group A could be told to eat an apple first then chocolate bar, and Group B, chocolate bar first then apple. This would reduce the order effects in the study. 

Overall there are many limitations and to some extent strengths of this study (e.g, ecological validity is high, as participants were tested in their own natural environments), as it demonstrates how German females feel guilty about eating high calorie food in comparison to low calorie food, and how this may effect their perception of what to eat in the future.  
But in the end the researchers did not find significant changes to mood through the study, although they have seen some changes to emotional satisfaction when consuming chocolate vs. Apple vs. Nothing.  
Therefore further research is recommended on healthy Vs. unhealthy food consumption in order to address whether mood has a direct impact on what an individual eats. (e.g newspaper articles)

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