Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Evaluation of a Brief Cognitive Defusion Training For Sweet Cravings Among College Students

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Harold Rosenberg (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Susan Brown (Other)

Third Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Richard Anderson (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

William O'Brien (Committee Member)


Objective: To compare the short-term impact of an in-lab cognitive defusion training for sweet food cravings with a control condition (use of a self-selected craving management strategy) on craving, cognitive fusion, acceptance of and willingness to resist food cravings, and consumption of sweet foods.

Methods: Undergraduate and graduate volunteers attending Bowling Green State University were quasi-randomly assigned to either the experimental intervention condition (n = 50) or the control condition (n = 46). Participants were young (Mage = 20.3, SD = 3.8), primarily female (77%), and non-Hispanic white (82%). The average body mass index was 25.1 (SD = 6.1), and 31% of the sample was overweight or obese.

Results: There were no main effects for condition on any of the dependent measures, but self-reported total sweet food consumption and cognitive fusion decreased in both conditions from baseline to two-week follow-up.

Conclusions: The main effects for time could indicate that participants who are seeking to reduce consumption of sweet foods benefit from practicing craving management strategies during exposure to sweet foods, self-monitoring consumption of sweet foods, and/or receiving text messages prompting use of craving management strategies regardless of the specific strategies they employ. However, placebo effects, social desirability biases, and recall errors may also account for the apparent effect of time on craving and consumption.