In chapter 2 of Introduction to Learning and Behavior by Honey, Powell, and Symbaluk (2013) we learned about the differences between deprivation and satiation. Deprivation is described as “the prolonged absence of an event that tends to increase the appetitiveness of that event” and almost opposite from deprivation is satiation, which is defined as “the prolonged exposure to (or consumption of) an event that tends to decrease the appetitiveness of that event” (Honey, Powell, & Symbaluk, 2013, p. 559 &564). When first reading about deprivation I immediately began to think of dieting. Whether depriving yourself of soda, candy, fast food, carbohydrates, or food in general, when dieting we are usually depriving our body of what certain things we really want. Deprivation isn’t always necessarily bad, but if you’ve ever been on a diet or have seen someone on a diet it always seems that the thing that the dieter is depriving oneself of the most, is the thing you cannot stop thinking about.
Beth Cecil, a dietitian at Owensboro Health explained in an article Donuts in your cart the drawbacks of excessive deprivation during dieting. Cecil asked readers to answer a few questions:
- “Do you feel guilty when you eat your favorite foods that are high in calories?
- Do you crave foods you have labeled as “bad” on a regular basis?
- Do you label foods as “good” and “bad”?
- Do you eat your favorite foods only if you feel you deserve them?
- Are you constantly “watching what you eat”?
- Do you ever feel “out of control” when eating?” (Cecil, 2015, p. 1)
Cecil explained that if you say yes to a majority of these questions, then it is very possible that you are depriving yourself of food, and will therefore crave the item more and will have a greater risk of binging on it later (Cecil, 2015). Personally, for the past few years my family and I have been strictly counting our calories through App’s on our phones. When I first started I really struggled with not being able to have ANY of the “unhealthy” or high calorie foods that I love. Unfortunately, it seemed that when I allowed myself to give in and have the item I was craving I would eat an excessive amount (even more than I would have eaten before calorie counting). I was able to change my complete deprivation of certain foods from a strict deprivation to a small, manageable amount when I was really craving it.
This got me thinking... what is a better reinforcer, deprivation or satiation. I found a 1986 article called Deprivation and satiation: the interrelations between food and wheel running by Boar, Epling, and Pierce. Boar, Epling, and Pierce explained that in this 1986 study they were testing “two experiments designed to assess whether depriving rats of food would increase the reinforcement effectiveness of wheel running (Experiment 1) and whether running would decrease the reinforcing effectiveness of food (Experiment 2) (Boar, Epling, & Pierce, 1989, p. 199). A brief understanding of the results of the experiments were described by Boar, Epling, and Pierce in Deprivation and satiation: the interrelations between food (1986) as “these experiments suggest that food deprivation increases the reinforcing effectiveness of wheel running. Also, satiation, by spontaneous or forced activity in a running wheel, decreases the effectiveness of food reinforcement. Thus, the two experiments suggest that deprivation-satiation operations with respect to one event alter the reinforcement effectiveness exerted by another event” (Boar, Epling, & Pierce, 1986, p. 208).
For those of you who have seen Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan (x2) here is a really interesting way to look at Deprivation vs. Satiation with the “absence” vs. “exposure” being a person.
Parent Trap Satiation vs Deprivation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws1go7S52v0
Cecil, B. (2015). Donuts in your cart. Retrieved from
Douglas, B., Frank, E., & David, P. (1986, September 1). Retrieved from
I thought your post was well written and very relevant at this point in time. As summer approaches, many people look to fad diets to drop pounds fast. However, currently, many diets are extremely restrictive and have set limitations on what an individual can and cannot eat. While these strict diets may yield results within the first few weeks, it is very likely that the person on the diet will not stick with it for an extended period of time. As you mentioned, one of the major issues with dieting, is that individuals often feel deprived of the one thing that is bad for them. For some people it's ice cream and sweets, for me, it's pizza. If an individual plans on dieting, it is very important to allow a "cheat meal" once a week. Cheat meals allow an individual to indulge in one unhealthy meal per week. By indulging in a cheat meal once a week, it is less likely that an individual will feel deprived and more likely that they will continue with their healthy eating regimen.ReplyDelete
This post is great! You did an excellent job of explaining the experiments and information in a way that is easily read and understood. The content of your post is also EXTREMELY relevant to today. Most people (especially females) are constantly talking about weight-loss and dieting and of course the new "fad" of going to the gym. Everyone is always searching for the quickest and easiest way to lose weight and many people turn to unhealthy dieting which of course, includes deprivation. I think that your post did a great job of explaining the effects of deprivation and satiation and how they can backfire on attempts to cut weight quickly. I really enjoyed reading your post. Great job!ReplyDelete