Eating as Adjunctive Behavior in Humans
The problem. The present study investigated the possibility that some eating may be adjunctive in nature during television viewing when an opportunity to eat is provided. Procedure. Three children were individually placed in a room with a television that monitored either uninterrupted cartoons or intermittent cartoons with commercials intended to serve as an S-. There were two levers in front of the chair in which they sat. One lever turned off the video portion for 10 sec while the other lever produced breakfast cereal only while the video portion was off. The frequency of responding on these levers and the temporal placement of responses were recorded. Findings. Two subjects showed response increases during these phases consisting of intermittent cartoons with commercials and during these phases all subjects responded considerably more during commercials than cartoons. During uninterrupted cartoons, a higher proportion of responding occurred durinq the first 30 sec of a cartoon than the last 30 sec. Conclusions. The results suggest that commercials serving as an S- can induce adjunctive eating. The fact that during uninterrupted cartoons a higher proportion of responding occurred during the first 30 sec (which is less reinforcinq and more predictable) than the last 30 sec (which is more reinforcing and less predictable) of a cartoon may lend additional support to the notion that some eating is controlled by S- variables. Recommendations. Additional research is needed to investigate what kinds of commercials, television programs, and what time parameters lead to adjunctive eating. Furthermore, other S- variables may be investigated to identify conditions where adjunctive eating may be related to weight control problems.