Mechanisms underlying food devaluation after response inhibition to food

Maram Saad, Cara Bohon, Noam Weinbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple studies reveal that a requirement to stop a response to appetitive food stimuli causes devaluation of these stimuli. However, the mechanism underlying food devaluation after stopping is still under debate. The immediate-affect theory suggests that an increase in negative affect after stopping a response is the driving force for food devaluation. A competing value-updating theory presumes that food devaluation after stopping occurs through the need to align behavior with goals. The current study assessed how food devaluation after response inhibition is influenced by negative emotional reactivity and behavior-goal alignment on a trial-by-trial basis. The study included 60 healthy participants who completed a Food-Stop-Signal-Emotion task. Participants categorized high vs. low-calorie food stimuli and stopped their response upon encountering a stop signal. Subsequently, participants made subjective negativity ratings of negative- or neutral-valenced emotional images, and rated their desire to eat the previously depicted food. In contrast to predictions made by the immediate-affect account, food devaluation after stopping was not mediated nor moderated via changes in negative emotional reactivity after stopping. In support of the value-updating account, food devaluation was modulated by behavior-goal alignment, indicated by larger food devaluation after successful vs. failed stopping. In agreement with this theory, the findings indicate that devaluation occurs more strongly when performance aligns with the task requirement. This study sheds light on the mechanism that likely underlies food devaluation after stopping. Implications regarding applied use of food-inhibition trainings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107387
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd


  • Desire to eat
  • Devaluation
  • Emotional reactivity
  • Inhibitory control
  • Response inhibition
  • Value updating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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