Research within the social sciences can help us understand food choices and eating behaviours such as overeating, but it can also help individuals who want to change their dietary habits. My doctoral work primarily focused on a behavioural intervention broadly known as inhibitory control training (ICT). I found that training individuals to stop their behavioural responses towards specific foods in a computer-based task can reduce their choices, cravings and liking for these foods. I investigated the mechanisms of action behind these training effects (how does it work?) and the parameters that should be considered for designing such interventions (what should training involve?).
During this fellowship, I aim to publish this research in interdisciplinary journals and communicate critical findings to both academic and non-academic audiences. I will also work with undergraduate students to optimise a novel intervention that could be tailored to individual needs and preferences (e.g. swapping foods to meet dietary requirements). The dissemination of this research will pave the way for collaborations in academia and industry, which will be important for testing the efficacy of ICT interventions as mobile health apps in the UK.
To increase the potential impact of this work, I have adopted ‘open research’ practices to ensure that published studies are as transparent and reproducible as possible (e.g. making the data publicly available). During the fellowship I will have the opportunity to collaborate with the Center for Open Science to create a template for designing reproducible research studies. Overall, this fellowship will allow me to bridge the two areas that I wish to pursue in my career – health psychology and reproducibility in the social sciences.