Healthy Cognition Lab

The Healthy Cognition Lab is the research laboratory of Esther K. Papies at the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow.

We study the psychological processes underlying health behavior and behavior change. Our research program centers around three main themes: nonconscious processes in the self-regulation of health behaviour, a grounded cognition approach to desire and motivated behavior, and contemplative approaches to self-regulation.  In other words, we study how people think about food and how this affects their eating behavior, how people can more effectively pursue their health goals in daily life, and how mindfulness contributes to healthy cognition and well-being.

Among other things, our lab has shown that:

  • People think about tempting food in terms of eating and enjoying it (for example, “chips are crunchy, salty and savoury, and you eat them on the sofa while watching a movie”), but they think about healthy food in terms of what it looks like and how you prepare it (for example, “cucumbers are long and green and you can cut them up to put them in a salad”). This has implications for how likely we are to eat these foods. (Read the paper here.)
  • Priming shoppers by showing them words related to healthy eating and dieting can strongly reduce the number of unhealthy snacks that overweight and obese participants purchase in a grocery store.  This suggests that health goal primes can be a useful intervention tool to help people eat more healthily. (Read the paper here.)
  • Applying mindfulness to one’s thoughts about food, and seeing these thoughts as mere mental events, can reduce food cravings and unhealthy (buffet) choices.  Thus, mindfulness may help us resist temptations. (Read the paper here.)

You can read more about our research here.

You can read and download publications of our research for personal use here.

You can get to know our lab members by reading about them here or by getting in touch.