Reciprocal markov modeling of feedback mechanisms between emotion and dietary choice using experience-sampling data


Authors: Lu, J., Pan, J., Zhang, Q., Dubé, L.Ip, E.H.

Publication: Multivariate Behavioral Research


With intensively collected longitudinal data, recent advances in the experience-sampling method (ESM) benefit social science empirical research, but also pose important methodological challenges. As traditional statistical models are not generally well equipped to analyze a system of variables that contain feedback loops, this paper proposes the utility of an extended hidden Markov model to model reciprocal the relationship between momentary emotion and eating behavior. This paper revisited an ESM data set (Lu, Huet, & Dube, 2011) that observed 160 participants’ food consumption and momentary emotions 6 times per day in 10 days. Focusing on the analyses on feedback loop between mood and meal-healthiness decision, the proposed reciprocal Markov model (RMM) can accommodate both hidden (“general” emotional states: positive vs. negative state) and observed states (meal: healthier, same or less healthy than usual) without presuming independence between observations and smooth trajectories of mood or behavior changes. The results of RMM analyses illustrated the reciprocal chains of meal consumption and mood as well as the effect of contextual factors that moderate the interrelationship between eating and emotion. A simulation experiment that generated data consistent with the empirical study further demonstrated that the procedure is promising in terms of recovering the parameters. 

Read full article: Multivariate Behavioral Research, January 2015