The dual-process model and food behaviour

Eating healthy can often feel like the ultimate battle between right and wrong. A perpetual dichotomy of the kale-and-salad-loving angel on your left versus the cheesy-pizza-loving devil on your right. However, choosing what we eat is frankly not as simple as identifying the foods that will or won’t best satisfy our nutritional needs. Other considerations such as emotional state and personal identity all play a part. The dual-process model of behaviour is a key model that allows us to examine food behaviours but it seems the complexity behind our food choices may be difficult for a single model to explain. The psychology behind ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ Psychologists term the battle between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ a dual-process model of human behaviour. The dual-process model posits that while humans are exceptional at being able to pre-determine their behaviour, they often act spontaneously.[1]Hofmann W, Friese M, Strack F. Impulse and self-control from a dual-systems perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2009 Mar;4(2):162-76. This theory is commonly used to look at self-control scenarios where people are torn between controlling their behaviour to achieve a long-term goal (e.g. eat healthy most of the time to maintain a normal weight) and impulses for immediate gratification (e.g. eat …

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