Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2014


The prevalence of depression has been steadily growing throughout the years, especially among college students. Depression has been rated third amongst the presenting problems in college counseling centers (Drum & Baron, 1998) and studies have indicated that as much as 80% of college students say they have experienced some form of depression throughout college (Westefeld & Furr, 1987). Not only does depression affect college students, but positive affect does as well. Evidence that suggests that those with a history of depression may get the most benefit from having positive affect, given a negative relationship between positive affect and depressive symptoms has been found to be stronger when people are under stress, which may be common in college students (Pruchno & Meeks, 2004). Levels of negative or positive moods, which may lead to higher or levels of emotional eating, may also affect food choice. Language use also affects health, where positive emotion words are linearly related to improved health, and negative emotion words are curvilinearly related and have an inverse-U function (Pennebaker, Mayne & Francis, 1997). In this current research, I examined the relationship between negative/positive affect and their relationship to emotional eating and food choice. Hypotheses include that higher levels of depressed affect will result in higher levels of emotional eating, which in turn will increase sweet food eating, especially in women. Higher levels of positive affect are hypothesized to decrease levels of emotional eating, which in turn will decrease sweet food eating. Results indicated that emotional eating played a role in depressed/positive affect and sweet food eating. The findings of the study supported the hypotheses, suggesting that mood plays a role in food choice.