Can episodic future thinking affect food choices? Academic Article uri icon


  • Episodic future thinking, defined as the ability to project oneself into the future, has proven useful to pre-experience the future consequences of present actions. We investigate how episodic future thinking influences the food choices of normal weight, overweight, and obese individuals. In doing so, we conduct a controlled laboratory experiment in which participants are presented with representations of weight-increased and weight-reduced modified images of themselves before performing a food choice task. This allows subjects to vividly imagine the future consequences of their actions. We also test the effect of providing health-related information on food choices to compare with the episodic future thinking effect. Our results suggest that while providing health-related information increases the number of lite snack choices of overweight and obese individuals, engaging in episodic future thinking has a positive impact on the food choices of the obese only. These findings are supported by eye-tracking data showing how visual attention and emotional arousal (measured by pupil size) impact individuals' food choices.

published proceedings

  • J Econ Behav Organ

author list (cited authors)

  • Segovia, M. S., Palma, M. A., & Nayga, R. M.

complete list of authors

  • Segovia, Michelle S||Palma, Marco A||Nayga, Rodolfo M

publication date

  • January 1, 2020 11:11 AM