« Make healthy hydration the new norm »

Grounding and changing desire for food and drink

By Dr. Esther Papies

Recorded on 29/09/2020

cognition behavior


About the speaker

Dr Esther K. Papies (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow, where she heads the Healthy Cognition Lab. Her team’s focus is on health cognition, and she is a leading expert in research on self-regulation in obesogenic food environments, the trade-off between short-term desires and long-term health goals, and the psychological processes underlying successful behaviour change. Her work has been published in prestigious outlets such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Health Psychology, and the International Journal of Obesity, and it is currently funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK.

About the talk

Research in social and health psychology shows that consumers often give in to short-term desires for unhealthy food and drink, despite healthy intentions. To effectively support behaviour change in such situations, we first need to understand the psychological processes that lead to these short-term desires. These insights can then be used to target the key situational and individual factors that lead to unhealthy consumption behaviour. In this talk, Dr Papies will share recent advances in the psychology of desire, and discuss implications for health behaviour change. This work shows, for example, that food and drink cues trigger spontaneous consumption and reward simulations (e.g., thoughts of tasting, feeling and enjoying the food or drink), and that these simulations lead to desire and salivation. Further, matching situational cues enhance consumption simulations, and therefore increase desire. I will discuss implications of these findings for behaviour change and specifically for facilitating the development of healthy hydration habits.