Date of Award

8-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Etcheverry, Paul

Abstract

Rates of obesity and lifestyle related diseases have increased in the last decade, adding strain to the health care system. While research mounts for the protective benefit of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the majority of Americans do not consume the recommended amounts. Successful strategies to improve healthy eating have utilized planning and goal setting to increase awareness of opportunities to eat healthy foods. Implementation intentions utilize if-then statements which describe potential situations to perform one's goal behaviors. In order to extend the research on implementation intentions and health behaviors, the role of romantic relationships will be investigated. Eating behavior is often part of a social environment allowing influence from close others to affect our eating choices. Romantic partners play an important role in eating behaviors due to the frequency of eating together and meal planning. Incorporating a partner's presence into implementation intentions to eat healthier was expected to improve the effect of implementation intention interventions. The first study investigated these hypotheses on individuals in relationships in an experimental laboratory-based design. The second experimental study aimed to determine if the benefit of the partner implementation intention intervention on couples requires both partners. Conclusions in each study were limited by methodological and sampling issues that occurred. Study 1 was unable to support the hypotheses due to the sample collected having low intentions to increase their fruit and vegetable eating. Study 2 suffered from unequal means in fruit and vegetable eating at the first session indicating issues with the measure or random assignment. These methodological concerns are discussed and areas for future research are explored.

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