background image
ate Heather Creary, Privitera published an
article in Environment & Behavior about
our likelihood to eat fruits and vegetables
based on their proximity and visibility to us.
"It was an extension of my lab project
from Dr. Privitera's `Psychology of Eating'
class," said Creary. "We found people
ate more fruits when they were
close and visible, and only proximity
influenced the amount of vegeta-
bles people ate."
rivitera and his students'
research comes at a time
when the health field is under
more scrutiny than ever.
"The scope of the relevance of
obesity goes far beyond the individ-
ual," said Privitera. "With rising
medical and insurance costs, the
question is how do we pay for this?
because that is a global concern."
Instead of just talking about
health and nutrition, we need to
start succeeding in the battle to
fight obesity, and that is where their
research might make the biggest impact.
"One study that we published in 2008
was funded by the Florida Citrus Founda-
tion because they recognized that grape-
fruit is sour and many children don't like
the taste of sour," said Privitera. "They
wanted us to find a way to get them to
like that taste.
"We sweetened grapefruit juice for 20
days, and then gave them plain juice and
their tastes had changed, they liked it,"
he said.
Similar studies have been conducted
with vegetables.
"We had people dip their vegetables
every other bite, then every third bite,"
said Privitera. What they found was that
people started to enjoy plain vegetables.
"So if you tell people to stop dipping
their vegetables they won't do it, but if
you reduce how often you dip you will
realize that you actually like them with-
out the dressing," said Privitera. It is
these changes that Privitera believes are
more likely to succeed.
Although Privitera has become the face
of health psychology at St. Bonaventure,
he insists he is not doing it alone. Along
with Creary, six other St. Bonaventure
graduates, and one senior, Chanel Free-
man, have co-authored articles with
"My students are the reason why this is
working," said Privitera. "Since I've gotten
here, I've published six peer-reviewed arti-
cles, each with a different student, plus
we have another project submitted for
publication. It's just been extraordinary."
reeman's research validated a scale
that can be used to estimate the
amount of fat that people eat in their
diet. It was published in March 2012 in the
Global Journal of Health Science.
"I didn't have a research background so
we worked together on the project. Dr.
Privitera was very supportive," said
Freeman, a psychology major with plans
to go into the health field. "This was my
first official paper so he helped me along
the way, and to get published, I was very
"We presented the research; it was
really a rewarding experience.
It gave me the opportunity to
elaborate on my research and
speak with other people who
were interested in the field
and took notice of our
research," said Freeman.
It is Privitera's willingness to
publish side-by-side with his
students that makes him an
asset to his psychology stu-
"He helped me with the sta-
tistics and writing the journal
article, since I didn't have any
experience with that," said
Likewise, Privitera couldn't
imagine publishing without the students.
"They work on good research, relevant
research," said Privitera. "To me, my
biggest role is shaping their minds to
help them realize `this is all me, I can do
this.' That's empowering, because I was-
n't at that point when I headed to gradu-
ate school."
So, as students get the research experi-
ence they need to create pathways to
graduate schools and careers after gradu-
ation, the world gets pathways toward
solutions to the global problem of obesi-
ty. Now, that's a win-win situation -- no
sugar coating necessary.
(Clarence Picard, '05, is the admissions
communications coordinator at the uni-
versity and has coached SBU's men's
rugby team since 2006.)
"With rising medical and
insurance costs, the
question is how do we
pay for this? because
that is a global concern."
Dr. Greg Privitera
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Watch Privitera's WGRZ interview: