This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of How Self-Control and Impulsivity Influences Eating Habits and Alcohol Use




Jackson, Marc

Type of Degree





People frequently make decisions that might affect their health. Obesity and alcohol dependence are debilitating problems facing many adults and individual differences in self-control and impulsivity may contribute to the susceptibility of developing problematic and addictive behaviors. This study examined how preferences may contribute to obesity and alcohol dependence. In addition, this study investigated the impact of increasing cognitive demands on self-control when making health-related choices. Participants completed a choice task (i.e., choosing food and beverage preferences) under no time pressure and with a severe time pressure imposed. Measures of impulsivity and self-control were obtained using behavioral paradigms (i.e., Iowa Gambling Task and delay discounting) and self-report assessments (UPPS+P, AUDIT, The Self-Control Scale, and DIET-SE). Results indicated that participants who are more impulsive and have less self-control displayed strong preferences for choices that favor immediate satisfaction and less healthy choices, and that increased cognitive demands impaired the decision making processes. Furthermore, individual differences in self-control and impulsivity are predictive of food and beverage selections on a choice task. Implications for identifying individuals susceptible to developing problematic health behaviors and future directions to promote choices of healthy behavior for impulsive individuals are discussed.