Food has the right of way: Evidence for prioritised processing of visual food stimuli irrespective of eating style
Abstract Visual attention for food is likely to play an important role for overeating. The attentional bias for visual food stimuli was investigated with respect to self-reported restrained, external and emotional eating style. Using a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation task ( N = 103), the effects of visual food stimuli in the context of the attentional blink were examined. Food targets enhanced the attentional blink when presented as first targets in a rapid stream of pictures and impaired the identification of preceding non-food targets in terms of a backward interference when presented as second targets. Task irrelevant food distractors interfered with the identification of subsequent non-food targets. The effects provide evidence for a prioritisation of food stimuli in the allocation of attentional resources. The attentional bias for food emerged as a universal phenomenon irrespective of personal eating style. Therefore, enhanced attention for visual food stimuli seems to play no direct causal role in eating styles associated with overeating.