The Huron University College Journal of Learning and Motivation


Past research has shown that stress, along with other moderating variables, leads to a desire to consume calorie-dense foods. Females are particularly prone to increase their appetites in response to stress. To further examine this issue, the current study was designed to observe the effects of stress and self-esteem on eating behaviour in females. Forty females were tested in one of four conditions in terms of stress (stress vs. no stress) and self-esteem (high vs. low). Self-esteem was assessed using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and a median split determined self-esteem scores. Stress was induced by having participants complete a timed math test and a speech task. For the no stress condition, a personal preference questionnaire was completed. To measure eating behaviour, participants were instructed to choose as many candies as they wanted from a bowl located outside the testing room. Contrary to predictions, no main effects of self-esteem and number of candies taken were found, and participants in the stressful condition with low self-esteem did not grab more candies relative to the other groups. Limitations, scientific implications and directions for future research are discussed.