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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance Title: Effects of ostracism and social connection-related activities on adolescents’ motivation to eat and energy intake

Authors
item Salvy, Sarah-Jeanne -
item Bowker, Julie -
item Nitecki, Lauren -
item Kluczynski, Melissa -
item Germeroth, Lisa -
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: Journal of Pediatric Psychology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 27, 2011
Publication Date: August 31, 2011
Citation: Salvy, S., Bowker, J.C., Nitecki, L.A., Kluczynski, M.A., Germeroth, L.J., Roemmich, J.N. 2011. Effects of ostracism and social connection-related activities on adolescents’ motivation to eat and energy intake. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 37(1):23-32.

Interpretive Summary: The purpose was to assess whether thinking about social connections would heighten or dampen the effect of ostracism (being excluded) on adolescents’ motivation to eat and on their energy intake. Adolescents were either ostracized or included when playing a computer game, Cyberball. The game is programmed to include or exclude the subject from actively participating in the game. Next, they wrote about their friend (social-connection), watched television (distraction), or completed Sudoku puzzles (cognitive-load), and then completed a task to earn points toward snack food and/or socializing. This task measured the adolescents' motivation to eat. Afterwards, participants were given access to food and social activities. We found that ostracized adolescents were more motivated to eat than adolescents who were in the included or control conditions. Ostracized adolescents who wrote about friends worked more for food points and consumed more food than other adolescents. These results suggest that social connection-related activities following ostracism may further deplete self-regulatory resources which leads to unhealthy eating.

Technical Abstract: Objective: assess the effect of ostracism and social connection-related activities on adolescents’ motivation to eat and their energy intake. Methods Participants (n¼103; M age¼13.6 years) were either ostracized or included when playing a computer game, Cyberball. Next, they wrote about their friend (social-connection), watched television (distraction), or completed Sudoku puzzles (cognitive-load), and then completed a task to earn points toward snack food and/or socializing. Afterwards, participants were given access to food and social activities. Results Ostracized adolescents were more motivated to earn food than adolescents who were in the included/control condition. Follow-up contrasts indicated that ostracized adolescents who wrote about friends worked more for food points and consumed more food than other adolescents. Conclusion Results suggest that social connection-related activities following ostracism may further deplete self-regulatory resources, thereby resulting in increased unhealthy food patterns. Study limitations as well as clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014