The Effects of Cue Salience and Prior Training on the Behavior of Juvenile- and Adult-Onset Obese Individuals


Two critical factors relevant to Schachter's external hypersensitivity explanation of obesity are: (a) the existence of a contradictory theory (Singh, 1973). and (b) problems in the generalizability of the findings. Both factors were addressed in the present study by pitting the hypotheses of Schachter and Singh against each other in a single study using a sample of the adult obese population more representative than those of the previous research. A reaction time task was employed in which cue salience (high vs low) and prior training (compatible vs incompatible) were manipulated. Significant main effects for the salience and training manipulations were demonstrated, providing the necessary conditions for tests of both Schachter's and Singh's hypotheses. Analyses revealed no significant interactions between body weight and cue salience, as predicted by Schachter's theory, nor between body weight and prior training, as predicted by Singh's theory. The lack of support for the hypotheses questions their generalizability to a representative sample of the adult obese population such as used in the present study. The role of age of onset of obesity was evaluated but was not found to interact with either experimental manipulation. An unexpected finding was that the normals responded significantly faster than the juvenile-onset obese across all experimental conditions.

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Dr. Milich was at the University of Iowa when the article was originally published.

This study was completed by the first author as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

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