Rumination and worry selectively modulate total calorie consumption within an online, nudge tactic paradigm

Eschle, Timothy M. and Wale, Sarah P. and McCarrick, Dane (2022) Rumination and worry selectively modulate total calorie consumption within an online, nudge tactic paradigm. Behavioral Sciences, 12 (3). 67. (

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Rumination and worry, collectively referred to as perseverative cognition, have been implicated in the increased engagement of several health risk behaviours. The current study aimed to investigate the potential influencing role of these repetitive negative thought cognitions in an online snack paradigm. Participants were randomly assigned to either an even condition (a 3:3 ratio of ≤101 kcal and >201 kcal snacks) or an uneven condition (a 4:2 ratio in favour of ≤101 kcal snacks). Upon the presentation of six images of sweet treats, participants were asked to choose the snack they most wanted to consume "right now", before completing the Ultra-Brief Penn State Worry Questionnaire (UB-PSWQ) and the brief (5-item) Ruminative Response Scale (RRS). The results showed that the reduced availability of higher calorie snacks significantly improved both snack choice and total calorie consumption. However, despite rumination and worry having no influence on the snack type chosen, higher levels of rumination still led to significantly higher overall calorie consumption. Although, contrary to predictions, higher levels of worry conversely led to significantly lower overall calorie consumption. This study adds to the growing work in the role of perseverative cognition and food consumption, which may aid in informing public health strategies. Further exploration is needed to assess whether rumination directly induces unhealthy eating behaviours or simply exacerbates them.


Eschle, Timothy M. ORCID logoORCID:, Wale, Sarah P. and McCarrick, Dane;