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Spotlight On: How do we choose our food?

Last updated: 09/07/2015 | More Spotlight On content
It seems nowadays everyone has an opinion on the right way to eat, and the right way to plan a diet. The modern diet – both in terms of content and quantity – is considered to be directed by a person's choice between health-related and appearance-related goals on the one hand, and short-term pleasure-based motivations on the other. Is this really how we choose our food? And is this really what directs the quantities we consume? Various studies have been undertaken to determine just what factors influence the food decision-making process. One line of research commonly examines the relative influence of the 'usual suspects': food quality, freshness, price, taste, health, convenience, familiarity, age, sex, education, income – a long list of largely rational factors (the exception is perhaps mood). However, this line of research is NOT the focus of the following list.

Another line of research seeks to explore the contribution of less obvious factors to the food decision-making process. The findings uncovered by these studies are at times surprising, at times counterintuitive, at times intuitive – in retrospect, and paint a complex picture of human biology and psychology. For instance, our evolutionary history may have directed us to prefer 'predigested' (i.e. processed) foods, a functional tendency turned bad in modern society. The quantity of the food we eat may be influenced by ingrained unit size biases. Degree of stress does not influence the quantity of food we consume – but it does affect the content. Sleep deprivation will affect both. So will the presence of other people while we eat – along with the body type of those present. And last but not least, we have a not so flattering list of superficial qualities, including color, food name, and label size, among others.

  19 records in list

Armelagos, G. J. (2014) "Brain Evolution, the Determinates of Food Choice, and the Omnivore's Dilemma", Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 12 pages. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.635817. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/104... Abstract▼ 

Bernstein, D. M. & Loftus, E. F. (2009) "The Consequences of False Memories for Food Preferences and Choices", Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5 pages. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01113.x. Abstract▼ 

Block, L. G. (2013) "Food Decision Making", Journal of Consumer Research, 1 page. doi: 10.1086/669343. Abstract▼ 

Brochu, P. M. & Dovidio, J. F. (2014) "Would You Like Fries (380 Calories) with That? Menu Labeling Mitigates the Impact of Weight-Based Stereotype Threat on Food Choice", Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8 pages. doi: 10.1177/1948550613499941. http://spp.sagepub.com/cgi/co... Abstract▼ 

Chen, X. & Yang, X. (2014) "Does Food Environment Influence Food Choices? A Geographical Analysis Through “Tweets”", Applied Geography, 8 pages. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2014.04.003. http://www.sciencedirect.com/... Abstract▼ 

Clydesdale, F. M. (1993) "Color as a Factor in Food Choice", Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 19 pages. doi: 10.1080/10408399309527614. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/104... Abstract▼ 

Elbel, B., Gyamfi, J. & Kersh, R. (2011) "Child and Adolescent Fast-Food Choice and the Influence of Calorie Labeling: A Natural Experiment", International Journal of Obesity, 8 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ijo... Abstract▼ 

Epstein, L., Temple, J., Roemmich, J. & Bouton, M. E. (2009) "Habituation as a Determinant of Human Food Intake", Psychological Review, 24 pages. doi: 10.1037/a0015074. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p... Abstract▼ 

Gardner, M. P., Wansink, B., Kim, J. & Park, S. (2014) "Better Moods for Better Eating?: How Mood Influences Food Choice", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16 pages. doi: 10.1016/j.jcps.2014.01.002. http://www.sciencedirect.com/... Abstract▼ 

Geier, A. B., Rozin, P. & Doros, G. (2006) "Unit Bias: A New Heuristic That Helps Explain the Effect of Portion Size on Food Intake", Psychological Science, 5 pages. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01738.x. Abstract▼ 

Gibson, E. (2006) "Emotional Influences on Food Choice: Sensory, Physiological and Psychological Pathways", Physiology & Behavior, 9 pages. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.01.024. http://www.sciencedirect.com/... Abstract▼ 

Herman, C. P., Roth, D. A. & Polivy, J. (2003) "Effects of the Presence of Others on Food Intake: A Normative Interpretation", Psychological Bulletin, 14 pages. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.6.873. Abstract▼ 

Hogenkamp, P. S., Nilsson, E., Nilsson, V. C., Chapman, C. D., Vogel, H., Lundberg, L. S., Zarei, S., Cedernaes, J., Rångtell, F. H., Broman, J., Dickson, S. L., Brunstrom, J. M., Benedict, C. & Schiöth, H. B. (2013) "Acute Sleep Deprivation Increases Portion Size and Affects Food Choice in Young Men", Psychoneuroendocrinology, 7 pages. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.01.012. http://www.sciencedirect.com/... Abstract▼ 

Irmak, C., Vallen, B. & Robinson, S. R. (2011) "The Impact of Product Name on Dieters’ and Nondieters’ Food Evaluations and Consumption", Journal of Consumer Research, 16 pages. doi: 10.1086/660044. Abstract▼ 

McFerran, B., Dahl, D. W., Fitzsimons, G. J. & Morales, A. C. (2010) "I’Ll Have What She's Having: Effects of Social Influence and Body Type on the Food Choices of Others", Journal of Consumer Research, 15 pages. doi: 10.1086/644611. Abstract▼ 

Mehta, S., Melhorn, S. J., Smeraglio, A., Tyagi, V., Grabowski, T., Schwartz, M. W. & Schur, E. A. (2012) "Regional Brain Response to Visual Food Cues is a Marker of Satiety That Predicts Food Choice", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 11 pages. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.042341. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/con... Abstract▼ 

Oliver, G., Wardle, J. & Gibson, E. L. (2000) "Stress and Food Choice: A Laboratory Study", Psychosomatic Medicine. http://journals.lww.com/psych... Abstract▼ 

Remick, A. K., Polivy, J. & Pliner, P. (2009) "Internal and External Moderators of the Effect of Variety on Food Intake", Psychological Bulletin, 18 pages. doi: 10.1037/a0015327. Abstract▼ 

Scott, M. L., Nowlis, S. M., Mandel, N. & Morales, A. C. (2008) "The Effects of Reduced Food Size and Package Size on the Consumption Behavior of Restrained and Unrestrained Eaters", Journal of Consumer Research, 15 pages. doi: 10.1086/591103. Abstract▼ 

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