Kelly Cuccolo

Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

F. R. Ferraro


Preoccupying thoughts can cause disruptions of ones’ attentional system and may arise as the result of a clinical disorder, societal pressures, or individual predispositions. Goal acquisition requires one to be preoccupied with one’s behaviors in order for success to be achieved, for example dieters must monitor their weight and caloric intake. As dieting is a widespread phenomenon in American culture it is important to understand the cognitive effect of preoccupation. This study examines the relationship between obsessional thoughts about food, weight, and shape, and cognitive task performance. The performance of Dieters and Non-Dieters on a battery of specific working memory tasks was compared, and the extent to which preoccupying thoughts contributes to this effect was be investigated. Our hypothesis is that dieters will show a verbal working memory deficit compared to non-dieters, was partially supported. These deficits were not attributable to general neuropsychological functioning differences between dieters and non-dieters.