Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Janice N. Steirn

Committee Member 1

Daniel G. Webster

Committee Member 2

Lawrence Locker, Jr.


The formation of quality lifelong nutritional behaviors is influenced by the evolving dietary habits of college students. In this study, college student dietary patterns were assessed and used to predict physiological arousal to healthy and unhealthy food stimuli. Dietary patterns were assessed with the Simultaneous Objective and Subjective Assessment (SOSA) program in which participants report how often they eat certain foods. In addition to dietary patterns, levels of food insecurity, stress, cognitive restraint, uncontrolled eating, emotional eating, and body mass index (BMI) were used to predict physiological response to food. Relationships between dietary patterns and the other predictors were assessed as well. Cognitive restraint, BMI, perceived stress, and emotional eating were significant predictors of galvanic skin response to both healthy and unhealthy foods. Additionally, the self-reported level of desirability of the unhealthy foods was a significant predictor of heart rate response to both healthy and unhealthy foods. However, the relationships of these predictors to galvanic skin response and heart rate response to healthy and unhealthy foods were not differential. The predictors showed almost identical directionality and strength for physiological response to both healthy and unhealthy foods. Together these findings do not give support to physiological arousal differing towards healthy and unhealthy food stimuli. Cognitive restraint, uncontrolled eating, and food insecurity were all significantly correlated with dietary patterns in a pattern consistent with previous research. This finding supports establishing validity of the assessment (SOSA) used to evaluate dietary patterns.

Research Data and Supplementary Material