Author (Your Name)

Carrie Potter, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Psychology Dept.


Jennifer Coane


The effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for eating disorders has established a link between cognitive processes and unhealthy eating behaviors. However, the relationship between individual differences in unhealthy eating behaviors that are not related to clinical eating disorders, such as overeating and restrained eating, and the processing of food related verbal stimuli remains undetermined. Furthermore, the cognitive processes that promote unhealthy and healthy exercise patterns remain virtually unexplored by previous research. The present study compared individual differences in attitudes and behaviors around eating and exercise to responses to food and exercise-related words using a Lexical Decision Task (LDT). Participants were recruited from Colby (n = 61) and the greater Waterville community (n = 16). The results indicate the following trends in the data: Individuals who scored high in “thin ideal” responded faster to food-related words than individuals with low “thin Ideal” scores did. Regarding the exercise-related data, individuals who engage in more “low intensity exercise” responded faster to exercise-related words than individuals who engage in less “low intensity exercise” did. These findings suggest that cognitive schemata about food and exercise might mediate individual’s eating and exercise patterns.


Obesity, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processes, Eating behavior, Exercise