The Relationship between Mental Fatigue and the Perceived Health of Foods

Freyja Hofler is a graduate student at Bowling Green State University. She is originally from Canton, Michigan. During her undergraduate career at BGSU, she studied Psychology and Marketing but she has returned to do her masters in College Student Personnel. She is currently working as the Event and Program Coordinator for the Arts Village. For the 2020 CURS Symposium, Freyja completed a research project entitled “The Relationship between Mental Fatigue and the Perceived Health of Foods.”

9 Questions with Freyja

Does mental fatigue have an influence on the perceived health of foods and does socioeconomic status (SES) moderate this relationship?

We created a series of online surveys using Qualtrics to test if participants who were mentally fatigued would rate unhealthy foods as being healthy more than participants who were not mentally fatigued. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: mental fatigue condition or non-mental fatigued condition (control). The online surveys included mental fatigue surveys, N-back tests, and a survey where they were asked to rate pictures of food on healthiness and calorie count.

Throughout my undergraduate studies at Bowling Green State University, I was one of eight students in the developmental psychology research laboratory (MoCHA). I worked with some brilliant graduate students on research projects, some of which studied psychology and its relationship with foods.

Our findings did not show the experimental group having any significant data in regards to p value. However, looking at the differences between the mental fatigue group and the control group, there are slight, but not significant differences. As our experiment was impacted by Covid-19, our sample size was smaller than projected and may have impacted our results.

The biggest challenge we encountered when working on the CURS project was Covid-19. Just when we had begun our experiment, BGSU decided to close its doors due to the pandemic. Students were told to leave campus and many had tumultuous weeks to follow. We had made our experiment completely online at that point but our experiment still yielded a smaller sample size than we had hoped for.

As the principal investigator of a research experiment, I gained so much knowledge and practical experience. There is really no way to get this type of experience in a class. It allowed me to work with professors, graduate students, and fellow undergraduate scholars making great connections and memories as well as gaining valuable experience.

Receiving a grant from CURS was a huge motivator in my group’s moral to continue our research during the pandemic. Knowing that we were contributing to a larger movement of academic research made it feel worthwhile during the long nights of research and analysis.

My advice for students pursuing research projects is to work with a group. Often, highly intelligent students will strive for independence and working alone. However, from my experience I learned that most times research is not just a singular person and working alone can be exhausting. Its collaborating with other people with similar interests. By working together with a team, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and helping each other, you can create a successful project. Across history, some of the greatest discoveries were collaborative.

While I studied psychology in undergrad and now I’m a graduate student in the college student personnel program, I have always held a passion for art. I was classically trained in drawing at an art studio under a master for 8 years. I have also competed in state and national art contests. I think it is important for people to know that even if you do not major or have a career in the arts, it can still be a part of your life. I would tell people not to give up on their passions just because it is not their career.


"By working together with a team, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and helping each other, you can create a successful project."

Updated: 03/07/2021 05:07PM