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The effect of a mindfulness-based decentering strategy on chocolate craving

Tapper, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-9097-6311 & Turner, A. (2018). The effect of a mindfulness-based decentering strategy on chocolate craving. Appetite, 130, pp. 157-162. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.08.011


According to the elaborated-intrusion theory of desire, strategies that load visual working memory will reduce cravings. According to the grounded cognition theory of desire, cravings will be reduced with mindfulness-based decentering strategies that encourage individuals to see their thoughts as thoughts. However, decentering strategies also tend to load visual working memory making it difficult to test the latter prediction. This study addressed this issue by matching visualization across decentering and guided imagery tasks. Male and female participants (n = 101) underwent a chocolate craving induction before listening to a 4-min audio recording that guided them to (a) decenter from their thoughts and feelings, (b) engage in visualization, or (c) let their mind wander. Participants reported on chocolate craving before and after the craving induction and following the 4-min recording. They also provided retrospective reports of craving during the recording, reported on the extent to which they had adhered to the audio instructions and briefly indicated what they had been thinking about during the recording. Results showed a significant reduction in cravings to baseline following the recording across all three conditions (p < .001), but no significant differences between conditions or in the retrospective reports of craving. There was some evidence to suggest that participants in the mind wandering condition had been thinking about alternate goals, which may have inhibited thoughts about chocolate and been just as effective at reducing craving as the imagery and decentering strategies. Exploratory analyses showed a trend toward decentering being more effective than imagery where participants reported higher task adherence throughout the 4 min (p = .067). This raises the possibility that decentering effects may be improved with better strategy adherence, which might be achieved through practice or increased motivation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Mindfulness, Decentering, Craving, Food, Visual imagery, Goals
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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