Associations between modern life stress, stress eating, emotional eating and the moderating effects of both optimism and signature strengths in adults : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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The present study examined the relationships between modern life stress, stress related eating and emotion related eating among Australian and New Zealand adults. The moderation effects of optimism and signature strengths on these relationships was also investigated. Respondents (N = 465) completed an online survey assessing their general stress, modern life stress, stress related eating behaviour, emotion related eating behaviour, dispositional optimism, and signature strengths. Those with higher levels of optimism were more likely to score lower on modern life stress measures and identified with a greater number of signature strengths. The interaction between modern life stress and eating behaviour in this sample was not statistically significant. Neither was the moderation effect of optimism or signature strengths on modern life stress and eating behaviour. Further studies could assess the complexity of the relationships between stress, eating behaviour, positive psychology factors and the relevance of stress measures on certain genders and populations.