Effects of Ostracism and Social Connection-Related Activities on Adolescents' Motivation to Eat and Energy Intake

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Objective Assess the effect of ostracism and social connection-related activities on adolescents' motivation to eat and their energy intake. Methods Participants (n = 103; M age = 13.6 years) were either ostracized or included when playing a computer game, Cyberball. Next, they wrote about their friend (social-connection), watched television (distraction), or completed Sudoku puzzles (cognitive-load), and then completed a task to earn points toward snack food and/or socializing. Afterwards, participants were given access to food and social activities. Results Ostracized adolescents were more motivated to earn food than adolescents who were in the included/control condition. Follow-up contrasts indicated that ostracized adolescents who wrote about friends worked more for food points and consumed more food than other adolescents. Conclusion Results suggest that social connection-related activities following ostracism may further deplete self-regulatory resources, thereby resulting in increased unhealthy food patterns. Study limitations as well as clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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