Distractibility correlates of normal and obese subjects
Hailey, William Robert
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Schacter and his associates demonstrated that peripheral physiological correlates of deprivation had little effect on obese eating behavior. Rodin, Herman and Schacter, 1969, extended the externality hypothesis to salient non-food cues requiring anticipatory attention. Rodin, 1971, showed that female obese were more distracted by competing stimuli in a proofreading task. However, in an attempt to clinically extend the distractiblity dimension to prediction of performance in a behavior modification weight loss program, Nathan , 1975, failed to replicate Rodin's findings. The present study is an attempt to partially replicate Rodin's study; extend Rodin's externality of non-food proofreading cues to male obese subjects; and extend the distractiblity dimension to the repression of stimulus cues required by the Stroop Color-word test. The effects of distraction on the performance of obese and normal subjects were tested. It was hypothesized that a high correlation would be found between weight deviation and each of the dlstractibility scores, proofreading performance and Stroop performance. A high correlation was also predicted between scores from the proofreading task and Stroop scores. To test these hypotheses, 32 subjects were tested on a counterbalanced, randomly assigned design. Subjects proofread two passages standardized according to number of errors, type of errors, and distribution of errors while listening to one of two tapes. One tape was a heavily emotional, high distraction tape describing the terrors of Hiroshima. The second tape was a low emotional, low distraction tape describing the associations of seashells. A questionnaire was administered after each proofreading task. Upon completing these tasks, each subject was tested on a standard form of the Stroop XXX and Color-word tests. The Stroop XXX test is a low stress, low dlstractibility test where performance is a function of calling out colcts. The Stroop Color-word test is a high stress, high distractibility test involving the repression of a learned response. Subjects read approximately the same number of lines, and corrected proof about as accurately as other subject groups. (Groups were Male normal, Male obese. Female normal, and Female obese.) Female, normals performed significantly better than Female obese in the main Stroop effect. A high was found between weight deviation and the difference in number of lines completed. (#lines B - #lines A, r equal to -.8) Good correlations were found between the main Stroop effect and weight deviation (male obese SJs, r equal to .6) and between the main Stroop effect and low distract accuracy (male obese Ss, r equal to .6). Results were discussed in relationship to Naihan's failure to replicate Rodin's (1971) findings on obese proofreading accuracy. Experimental findings are taken to be of positive potential for extension of Stroop test to prediction of success in behavior therapy of obese males.