Relationship between trait suggestibility and eating-related behaviors in overweight and obesity

Mary Katherine Ray, Ashley E. Zachmann, Caroline V. Caudill, Mary M. Boggiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Differences in trait suggestibility among those with obesity may help explain differential responses to weight-loss interventions. Ubiquitous advertising of unhealthy foods, weight-loss products that are not evidence-based, and myths regarding weight loss could be particularly sabotaging in individuals with high levels of suggestibility, with or at risk of developing obesity. This study explored relationships between suggestibility, body mass index (BMI), and self-reported eating-related behaviors that vary among those with obesity. A sample of ethnically diverse adults (N = 73) with a BMI ≥25 completed the Short Suggestibility Scale (SSS), Palatable Eating Motives Scale (PEMS), Binge Eating Scale (BES), Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire-Restraint (DEBQ-R), and Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS). Impulsiveness was controlled in analyses due to its strong association with suggestibility. Analyses revealed that BMI was not related to SSS scores, consistent with studies using hypnotic-suggestibility scales. However, SSS scores were positively associated with eating caloric food more frequently for Reward, Social, and Conformity motives, and with greater actual dieting behavior, and binge eating. Suggestibility was not related to eating for Coping motives or effort to diet. If supported by future replications, knowledge of these associations could potentially help inform and tailor weight-loss interventions to protect those that may be most susceptible to adopting invalid messages and products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101380
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Advertising
  • Binge eating
  • Eating behavior
  • Impulsiveness
  • Suggestion
  • Weightloss


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