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The article review should be a minimum of 2 pages (double spaced). You
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review should not only be a summary of the article but should also
include your own thoughts and reflections about the methodology and
findings of the study itself. See the instructions below about the 4 major
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of the questions, purposes, and hypotheses of the study.
– Clearly state the major research question(s)
– What is the purpose of the study?
– What are the concepts under investigation in this study?
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2011, Vol. 30, No. 4, 424 429
© 2011 American Psychological Association
0278-6133/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0023467
Mind Over Milkshakes:
Mindsets, Not Just Nutrients, Determine Ghrelin Response
Alia J. Crum
William R. Corbin
Arizona State University
Kelly D. Brownell and Peter Salovey
Objective: To test whether physiological satiation as measured by the gut peptide ghrelin may vary
depending on the mindset in which one approaches consumption of food. Methods: On 2 separate
occasions, participants (n ? 46) consumed a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either
a 620-calorie indulgent shake or a 140-calorie sensible shake. Ghrelin was measured via intravenous
blood samples at 3 time points: baseline (20 min), anticipatory (60 min), and postconsumption (90 min).
During the first interval (between 20 and 60 min) participants were asked to view and rate the
(misleading) label of the shake. During the second interval (between 60 and 90 min) participants were
asked to drink and rate the milkshake. Results: The mindset of indulgence produced a dramatically
steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake, whereas the mindset of sensibility produced a
relatively flat ghrelin response. Participants satiety was consistent with what they believed they were
consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed. Conclusions: The effect of
food consumption on ghrelin may be psychologically mediated, and mindset meaningfully affects
physiological responses to food.
Keywords: mindset, nutrition, ghrelin, hunger, product labeling
Studies of food expectancies suggest an important role for a persons mindset in determining taste and preference. For instance,
people like the taste of Coke better when it is consumed from a
brand-name cup (McClure et al., 2004); strawberry yogurt and cheese
spreads are enjoyed less if they are labeled low-fat (Wardle &
Solomons, 1994); adding vinegar to beer under the labeling special
ingredient can actually improve taste ratings (provided the consumer
is unaware that the special ingredient is vinegar; Lee, Frederick, &
Ariely, 2006); and manipulating the perceived cost of wine to be more
expensive (but not the wine itself) can result in heightened activity in
the medial orbital frontal cortex, the pleasure center of the brain
(Plassmann, ODoherty, Shiv, & Rangel, 2008).
Food labels and perceptions also affect hunger as well as subsequent food consumption. For example, people tend to modify their
eating based on perceived calorie intake such that, when a high or low
calorie preload is presented as high or low calorie, actual caloric
content matters little as compared to perceived caloric intake. In
general, when people think they have eaten a high calorie preload they
report greater fullness and eat less in response, whereas when people
believe they have eaten a low calorie preload they report more hunger
and eat more in response (e.g., Polivy, 1976; Provencher, Polivy, &
Herman, 2009; Wooley, Wooley, & Woods, 1975). These differences
are often moderated by restrained eating such that highly restrained
participants tend to eat even more after perceiving themselves as
having consumed a high calorie preload, a phenomenon called counterregulatory eating (e.g., Knight & Boland, 1989; Polivy, 1976;
Spencer & Fremouw, 1979).
Although often ignored, ones mindset (thoughts, beliefs, and
expectations) is a key component in various domains of health.
The mere expectation to heal even in the absence of active pharmaceutical or chemical substances enhances the effect of medication (e.g., Brody, 1980; Price, Finniss, Benedetti, 2008); ones
interpretation of events despite their objective characteristics determines the impact of stress and illness on the body (e.g., Cohen
& Williamson, 1991; Park, 2006); and identifying housework as a
good source of exercise can elicit corresponding physiological
benefits without any changes in actual activity (Crum & Langer,
2007). Evidence continues to point to the idea that ones state of
mind influences the body, and we cannot easily separate the
interdependence of mind and body (Langer, 2009).
This article was published Online First May 16, 2011.
Alia J. Crum, Kelly D. Brownell, and Peter Salovey, Department of
Psychology, Yale University; William R. Corbin, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University.
We thank the Rudd Foundation and the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation for financial and logistical support. We also thank Ellen Langer,
Thomas Horvath, Shirley McCarthy, and Sonia Caprio for their intellectual
guidance, Cathy Crum for her comments on this article, and Gibbs Graphics for the label design.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alia J.
Crum, Department of Psychology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208205, New
Haven, CT 06520. E-mail: email@example.com
MIND OVER MILKSHAKES
In the past decade, investigators have improved our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control food intake and body
weight. Central to this line of research has been the identification
and characterization of metabolic signals that serve as fundamental
indexes of energy balance. A hormone that has proved to be
particularly influential is the gut peptide ghrelin. Identified in
1999, ghrelin is an essential indicator of energy insufficiency.
When energy intake is low or the stomach is empty, ghrelin is
secreted from the endocrine cells of the stomach and transported in
the bloodstream to the brain, where it binds with receptors in the
arcuate nucleus and the ventromedial hypothalamus to produce the
sensation of hunger and motivate consumption. As energy intake
increases and nutrients are detected in the gastrointestinal tract,
ghrelin levels are suppressed, thereby signaling to the brain via
neural and endocrine mechanisms to reduce appetite and increase
feelings of satiety (Baynes, Dhillo, & Bloom, 2006; Murphy,
Dhillo, & Bloom, 2006).
In principle, the rise and fall of ghrelin occur systematically and
in proportion to calories consumed to achieve a healthy metabolic
balance (Zigman & Elmquist, 2003). However the communication
between the metabolic and neurological systems is complex. Even
subtle changes can have profound implications for health and
homeostasis (Murphy et al., 2006). For example, among obese
individuals, the usual postprandial reduction in ghrelin is absent or
attenuated suggesting that abnormalities in the gut hormone signaling system may be associated with weight gain and obesity
(Cummings, 2006). Peripheral or intracereroventricular administration of ghrelin in both humans and rodents has been shown to
promote food intake and body weight gain (e.g., Theander-Carillo
et al., 2006; Wren et al., 2001, as cited in Castan~eda et al., 2010).
In light of the power of beliefs and expectations in affecting other
physiological processes, we sought to determine whether subtle
changes in the mindset associated with eating might influence the
release of ghrelin in response to food consumption. Considering the
moderating influence of restraint on the psychological effects of
eating behavior and satiety (e.g., Heatherton, Polivy, & Herman,
1989) and the influence of restrained eating on the ghrelin response
(Schur, Cummings, Callahan, & Foster-Schubert, 2008), restrained
eating was also included in the analyses.
Participants were recruited through fliers presenting the opportunity to participate in a Shake Tasting Study at the Yale Center
for Clinical Investigation in exchange for $75 for the two 2.5-hr
sessions. These fliers were posted around the New Haven community in both on- and off-campus locations in an attempt to
recruit a diverse sample. Participants were between the ages of 18
and 35, within a normal to overweight range of body mass index
(BMI; M ? 22.5, SD ? 4.04), and were prescreened for diabetes,
pregnancy, chronic medical or psychiatric conditions, and food
allergies to lactose or eggs. Fifty-three participants were recruited;
however, two participants did not attend the second session, and
five participants did not complete the preliminary survey. Data
were analyzed using the 46 participants who completed all components of the study (65% women, 78% student, 22% member of
community; 56% White, 12% African American, 11% Asian
American, 10% Hispanic/Latino, and 11% other).
Design and Procedure
Participants were scheduled for two, 2.5-hr sessions at the Yale
Clinical Research Center Hospital Research Unit (HRU). These
sessions were exactly 1 week apart, either at 8:00 a.m. or 8:20 a.m.
after an overnight fast. At the first session, participants were told
that the metabolic kitchen at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation was working on designing two different milkshakes with
different nutrient contents and that they would taste one milkshake
in the first week and another milkshake the following week. They
were told that the goal of the study was to evaluate whether the
milkshakes tasted similar and to examine the bodys reaction to the
different nutrients (high vs. low fat, high vs. low sugar, etc.).
Unknown to the participants, the contents of the two milkshakes
were identical. However, the labels depicting these beverages differed
from Time 1 to Time 2: The indulgent condition presented the
milkshake as a high fat, high calorie indulgent shake; the sensishake condition touted the milkshake as a low fat, low calorie sensible shake. The corresponding labels are presented in Figures 1 and
2. Please visit www.GibbsGraphicsArt.com/Crum.html to view the
color versions of these designs.
At each session, an intravenous catheter was placed for blood
drawing, and after a 20-min rest period, the first blood sample was
drawn, followed by samples taken at 60 and 90 min. During the first
interval (between 20 and 60 min) participants were asked to view and
rate the label of the shake. During the second interval (between 60 and
90 min) participants were asked to drink and rate the milkshake. To
control for speed of consumption, participants were instructed to
consume the shake in its entirety within the first 10 min of this
interval. Order of presentation of the two milkshakes was counterbalanced so that approximately half (45%) of the participants received
the sensi-shake in the first session and half (55%) of the participants
received the indulgent shake in the first session.
Ghrelin. Ghrelin was measured using a double antibody RIA
(GHRT-89HK) with intra-assay variability of 4 to 10%, and interassay variability of 4.8 to 12.8% (Millipore; St. Charles, MO).
Samples were kept on ice during the collection period after which
they were spun and plasma was stored at ?70 °C until they were
batch analyzed. Total amount of blood collected was 90 ccs (45 ccs
Taste ratings. During consumption, participants were asked
to comment on various aspects of the milkshake including smell,
appearance, and taste as well as enjoyment and healthiness. Responses to these questions were assessed via 100-mm visual analogue scales ranging from 0 (not at all) to 100 (extremely).
Hunger ratings. Ten minutes prior to each ghrelin measurement, participants were asked to rate their subjective feelings of
hunger. Responses to these questions were assessed via 100-mm
visual analogue scales ranging from 0 (not at all) to 100 (extremely).
Restrained eating. The Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ; Van Strien, Frijters, Bergers, & Defares, 1986) was
used to assess dietary restraint. Although this measure also has
CRUM, CORBIN, BROWNELL, AND SALOVEY
Indulgent shake label.
subscales for emotional eating and external eating, only the restraint subscale was analyzed in this study. We selected this scale
over other measures of restraint because it has been identified as
being a unidimensional measure of restraint (other scales of restraint include items about disinhibition, combining successful and
unsuccessful restraint into the same variable; e.g., Allison, Kalinski, & Gorman, 1992; Van Strien et al., 1986). Furthermore, we
felt that this scale would be particularly relevant to the sample of
interest because it has a highly stable factor structure across
genders and weight categories (other scales show higher variability
across weight and gender; e.g., Allison et al., 1992; Gorman &
Allison, 1995; Van Strien, 2007; Wardle, 1987). In the current
sample, reliability of the restraint subscale was adequate (Cronbachs ? ? .82). In our analyses, restrained eating was dichotomized at the midpoint of the scale (separating those who reported
restraining their eating sometimes or seldom from those who
reported restraining their eating often or always).
To assess the effect of the label manipulation on perceived
healthiness and perceived tastiness of the milkshake, a mixed-
Sensible shake label.
MIND OVER MILKSHAKES
model analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted with shake
type (indulgent, sensi-shake), restrained eating (nonrestrained, restrained), and order (Session 1, Session 2) included as factors in
the model. For perceived healthiness, these analyses revealed a
significant main effect for type of shake, F(1, 89) ? 42.50, p ?
.01, ?2 ? .33, with no significant main or interaction effects for
restrained eating or for the order in which the shakes were consumed. Simple effects tests suggested that participants rated the
sensi-shake as significantly healthier than the indulgent shake,
t(44) ? 15.61, p ? .01. These differences are illustrated in Figure
3. There were no significant main or interaction effects of shake,
order, or restrained eating on perceived tastiness of the shake.
To test the effect of shake condition on ghrelin and hunger, the
data were first assessed using mixed-model ANOVA with time
(baseline, anticipatory, postconsumption), shake type (indulgent,
sensi-shake) and order (Session 1, Session 2) as fixed factors.
Because the model failed to identify significant main effects or
interactions involving order (suggesting that the ordering of the
sessions did not elicit any reliable differences), the data were
collapsed over order and analyzed using a 2 (shake type: indulgent,
sensi-shake) ? 3 (time: baseline, anticipatory, postconsumption)
repeated-measures general linear model (GLM) with restrained
eating as a between-subjects variable. Reflecting the different
patterns of response hypothesized during the anticipatory and
postconsumption phases, we expected a quadratic shake ? time
For ghrelin, the 2 (shake type: indulgent, sensi-shake) ? 3
(time: baseline, anticipatory, postconsumption) repeated-measures
GLM produced a reliable quadratic effect, F(1, 44) ? 4.36, p ?
.04, ?2 ? .091. To be specific, participants exhibited a steeper rise
in ghrelin in anticipation of the indulgent shake, followed by a
significantly steeper reduction in this biological marker of hunger
after consuming the shake. When drinking the shake in an indulgent mindset, participants levels of ghrelin reflected a moderate
level of physiological craving followed by a significant level of
physiological satiety. On the other hand, when drinking the shake
in a sensible mindset, participants exhibited flat or slightly increased levels of ghrelin over the course of consumption suggesting that, despite consuming the same nutrient contents, they were
not physiologically satisfied. The 2 (restraint: nonrestrained, re-
strained) ? 2 (shake type: indulgent, sensi-shake) ? 3 (time:
baseline, anticipatory, postconsumption) interaction was not significant nor was there a significant between-subjects effect of
Figure 4 provides a graphic representation of the effects of
shake label on ghrelin as a function of mindset. To understand
further the differences in ghrelin levels between the two types of
shakes at the anticipatory and postconsumption time points, the
interactions were decomposed by conducting separate analyses for
the anticipatory and postconsumption intervals. These analyses
suggest that the primary driver of the quadratic effect was the
response to consuming the shake rather than anticipation of it, that
is, the 2 (shake type: indulgent, sensi-shake) ? 2 (time: anticipatory, postprandial) effect was significant, F(1, 44) ? 5.75, p ? .02,
?2 ? .12, whereas the 2 (shake type: indulgent, sensi-shake) ? 2
(time: baseline, anticipatory) effect was not, F(1, 44) ? 0.94, p ?
.34, ?2 ? .02. For the measure of hunger, these analyses produced
no significant main or interaction effects as a function of shake,
time, or restrained eating.
When participants drank the indulgent shake, they had a significantly steeper decline in ghrelin than when they drank the sensible
shake. The observed pattern of ghrelin response is consistent with
what one might observe if participants actually consumed beverages with differing caloric contents (i.e., high vs. low energy
intake; Taheri, Lin, Austin, Young, & Mignot, 2004). However, in
this case the distinctive ghrelin profiles were psychologically
mediated; they were dependent on the perceived expectancies of
the milkshakes nutritional contents as opposed to objective nutritional differences.
That we obtained these results independent of the intrinsic
properties of food challenges …
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