Credit points


Campus offering

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PSYC100 Foundations of Psychology ; PSYC101 Applications of Psychology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Eating behaviours have considerable importance for many professional applications of psychology, including clinical psychology, health psychology, and counselling psychology. Eating disorders and unhealthy eating habits, for example, are becoming increasingly common, and food-related health issues and costs are increasing exponentially, with implications also for policy making.

This unit adopts a broad perspective and will introduce you to current theory and evidence at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, health science with other disciplines and expertise. The unit will draw on evidence from a range of behavioural and neuroscience methods that have significantly advanced our understanding of eating behaviours.

The aim is to provide an overview of our current understanding of how humans perceive food, think and make decisions about food, and the factors that may influence our choices. The unit is intended to provide a better understanding of eating choice processes in their normal and abnormal modalities.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - describe the current understanding of human eating behaviour based on psychological and neuroscientific theories and evidence (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9). 

LO2 - identify and describe basic methodological approaches and key empirical evidence in the domain of food perception and choice including the key factors influencing food choice in normal and abnormal eating behaviours (GA1, GA4, GA8, GA9). 

LO3 - identify key neural structures implicated in the perception and choice of food (GA5, GA9). 

LO4 - critically analyse empirical evidence in the domain of eating behaviour (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 


  • The physiology of food intake regulation 
  • Food and reward 
  • Taste and disgust 
  • Food perception and choice 
  • Cognitive, Emotional, and Cultural influences on food intake 
  • Environmental and Social determinants of eating 
  • The psychobiology of food intake control: dieting and weight control  
  • Obesity, and other disordered eating 
  • Interventions to improve food choice and eating habits 
  • Ethics associated with eating behaviour and associated health stigmatism 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit will implement a broad approach and will be taught face-to-face in lecture and will be complemented with additional activities in tutorials. 

During the lecture evidence and models describing eating behaviour will be presented and described.  The lectures will also provide the space for the discussion of the issues that arise and are associated to the multidisciplinary nature of the topic.  

In tutorials you will be engaged in individual/group activities as well as reflective/critical thinking activities ensuring your active participation in the critical analyses topics.  

You will be expected to take responsibility for your learning and to actively participate to class discussion and activities on a regular basis.  In addition to the teaching provided by staff, this format will also stimulate peer-led discussions and learning.  

This range of strategies and the guided discussions/activities will provide you with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for development of competency. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best support you to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is implemented, consistent with University assessment requirements.  

A range of assessment strategies are used.  


(a) Diary study-case report. This task will allow you to become more accustomed to thinking about the levels of influence on food choice and eating behavior that are examined in the unit.  

(b) Oral presentation. This task will allow you to demonstrate your oral communication skills in the process of demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of empirical research.  

(c) Final examination. Final exam will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding and consolidation of basic knowledge of content covered in the unit. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Study-case report 

You will be required to keep a one-week food journal and report your analyses and reflections on the diary data based on guided questions. This task will assess your knowledge, understanding, critical thinking and analysis skills, and written communication skills. 


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9  

Oral presentation 

In tutorials, you will present a research article from a provided list making a critical analysis of the research. This will assess oral communication skills and your knowledge and understanding of empirical research. 


LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

End-of-semester exam 

The exam will comprise multiple-choice and short-answer questions and will assess knowledge and understanding of unit content. 


LO1, LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Ogden, J. (2011). The psychology of eating: From healthy to disordered behavior. John Wiley & Sons. 

Avena, N. (2015). Hedonic Eating: How the Pleasure of Food Affects Our Brains and Behavior. Oxford University Press. 

Carter, A., Hendrikse, J., Lee, N., Yücel, M., Verdejo-Garcia, A., Andrews, Z., & Hall, W. (2016). The neurobiology of “food addiction” and its implications for obesity treatment and policy. Annual review of nutrition36, 105-128. 

Dovey, T. (2010). Eating Behaviour. McGraw-Hill Education. 

Logue, A. W. (2014). The psychology of eating and drinking. Routledge. 

Rolls, E. T. (2015). Taste, olfactory, and food reward value processing in the brain. Progress in neurobiology127, 64-90. 

Stricker, E. M., & Woods, S. (Eds.). (2006). Neurobiology of food and fluid intake (Vol. 14). Springer Science & Business Media. 

Stroebe, W. (2008). Dieting, overweight, and obesity: Self-regulation in a food-rich environment. American Psychological Association. 

Wansink, B. (2006). Mindless eating: Why we eat more than we think. New York: Bantam Books. 

Woods, S. C., Schwartz, M. W., Baskin, D. G., & Seeley, R. J. (2000). Food intake and the regulation of body weight. Annual review of psychology51(1), 255-277. 

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