- - Cognitive processes and biases
- - Executive functioning & cognitive control
- - Interventions, treatment
- - Obesity
- - Reward value of eating
- - Weight loss & dieting
My research focuses on automatic processes that play a role in excessive eating and obesity as well as the ability to exert executive control over such (automatic) behavior. Specifically, my research roughly concentrates on the following topics:
1. Implicit cognition and change
According to contemporary dual-process models, situations in which we are tempted by delicious, high calorie food can often be understood as a tug-of-war between motivational impulses to consume this food, and conflicting goals related to weight control. Specifically, palatable food may be automatically (implicitly) associated with positive affect, thereby triggering the motivational impulse to indulge, even though one does not wish this to happen. This line of research focuses on examining the automatic cognitions underlying the desire to eat and testing new ways of re-wiring these automatic impulses.
2. Self-control and training of executive functions
In order to achieve weight loss, one needs to reduce daily caloric intake, increase psychical activity, or do both. For many, however, this equation is easily understood but difficult to balance. Self-control may be the critical factor in this knowledge-behavior gap. Self-control refers to the ability to override or change one’s inner responses, as well as to interrupt undesired behavioral tendencies (such as impulses) and refrain from acting on them. In line with this idea, less effective self-control is associated with increased food intake, overeating, increased bodyweight, and obesity. Thus, the available evidence supports a crucial role for self-control, in particular when confronted with tasty foods, in the prevention and treatment of excessive bodyweight and obesity. My research therefore focuses on testing the possibility of training self- control to reduce food intake and overweight.
I am the coordinator of the course ‘Addiction’ in the bachelor Mental Health, and the course ‘Bad Habits’ in the master Health and Social Psychology. I also coordinate and supervise practicals in the master tracks of the faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience and I am involved in the psychology bachelor course ‘Academic writing’. Finally, I supervise bachelor theses and master theses of students interested in self-control, executive functions, eating behavior and overweight/obesity.
An up to date list can be found here.