Positive and Negative Emotions Predict Weight Loss Intentions and Behaviors beyond Theory of Planned Behavior Constructs

Dylan K. Richards, Adam K. Fetterman, Marie-Christin Krebs, Josephine Neugebauer, Devin G. Ray, Kai Sassenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The current study examined the predictive utility of emotional valence (i.e., positive and negative emotions) on weight loss intentions and behaviors, beyond Theory of Planned Behaviors constructs (i.e., attitude, subjective norm, and perceived control), among a community sample of people who were overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m²). Method: Participants were recruited for a longitudinal study via an online panel. They completed a baseline survey (N = 732) and a follow-up survey 6 months later (N = 526), both administered online. The surveys included measures of attitude, subjective norms, perceived control, positive and negative emotion regarding one’s current weight, intentions to engage in weight loss behaviors (time 1), and having engaged in weight loss behaviors in the past 6 months (time 2). Results: Emotion explained additional variance in weight loss intentions (range ΔR² = .03-.10, all ps < .01) and behaviors (range ΔR² = .01-.02, all ps < .05) beyond Theory of Planned Behaviors constructs. Negative emotions mainly predicted the intake of unhealthy food and seeking social support, whereas positive emotions predicted physical activity (intention and behavior). These results suggested that the differential relations might be based on whether the strategy is approach- or avoidance-oriented. Conclusions: Based on these findings, comprehensive models of weight loss behaviors should consider emotion, and the valence of such emotion, regarding current weight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-838
Number of pages10
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Early online date18 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: This study was funded by the ScienceCampus Tuebingen (TP7.1) awarded to Devin G. Ray and Kai Sassenberg.


  • weight loss
  • overweight
  • obesity
  • emotion
  • theory of planned behavior
  • prospective study
  • community sample
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss
  • Theory of planned behavior
  • Overweight
  • Emotion
  • Community sample
  • Prospective study


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