Date of Publication


Degree Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. L.B. Forzano, Professor, Psychology


Self-control has been defined as choosing a larger, more delayed reinforcer over a smaller, less delayed reinforcer (Rachlin & Green, 1972). Impulsiveness is defined as the opposite. The delay discounting task (Mazur, 1987), is one of several ways used to measure impulsiveness. Much of the research with delay discounting uses monetary reinforcers, however some recent research has begun to investigate impulsivity with regard to food. Several studies have demonstrated that there is a relationship between food intake and impulsivity (Guerreri et al., 2007; Guerreri, Nederkoorn, & Jansen, 2007; Herman & Polivy, 1980). In the current experiment, it was hypothesized that positive and negative mood, or emotional arousal, would increase impulsive behavior when making hypothetical food choices. To test this prediction, female undergraduate psychology students at the College at Brockport were asked to participate in a mood manipulation procedure. Pieces of classical music whose effects are supported by previous research (Bouhuys et al., 1995; Clark et al., 2001; Clark & Teasdale, 1985; Heatherton et al., 1998; Stober, 1997; Willner at al., 1998; Wood et al., 1990) were used to temporarily influence mood. Once they were in the desired mood state, participants were asked to choose between varying amounts and delays of hypothetical food rewards in a computerized delay discounting task (Mitchell, 1999). In addition, impulsivity and mood were measured using questionnaire measures. It was predicted that positive and negative mood, as opposed to neutral mood, would increase impulsivity with respect to hypothetical food reinforcers. The results showed no significant relationships.

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