Explicit and Implicit Attitudes to Food

  • Maria Czyzewska
  • Reiko Graham
  • Natalie A. Ceballos


Attitudes exert a powerful influence on human decision-making and behavior; they are thought to be a driving force behind prejudice and are important factors in many consumer and health-related choices. Essentially, attitudes can be assessed in two ways: directly (explicit attitudes) or indirectly (implicit attitudes). Relative to explicit attitudes, which are subject to top-down control, implicit attitudes are thought to represent more of automatic an processing. In this review, this implicit/explicit distinction is explored in the context of food and eating behaviors, with particular emphasis on the various methodologies used to tap into implicit attitudes. The roles of implicit and explicit attitudes about food are discussed in the context of theoretical models emphasizing impulsive and reflective tendencies. Studies examining individual differences in and situational moderators of attitudes and their effects on impulsive and reflective processing are also examined. Explicit attitudes are most influential when a person has enough resources and motivation to exert self-control through reflective processing, whereas implicit attitudes will tend to predominate in states of low motivation or when resources are reduced via the impulsive system. Because of their ultimate effects on health-related choices, an understanding of implicit and explicit attitudes has important implications for obesity prevention and management, disordered and emotional eating, and addictive behaviors.


Implicit Association Test Implicit Attitude Impulsive System Implicit Association Explicit Attitude 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Body mass index


Implicit Association Test


Extrinsic Affective Simon Task


Three Factor Eating Questionnaire-Revised








Event-related potentials


Functional magnetic resonance imaging



This work was supported by Research Enhancement Grants from Texas State University to the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Czyzewska
    • 1
  • Reiko Graham
  • Natalie A. Ceballos
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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