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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Exposure to cues of harsh or safe environmental conditions alters food preferences
Author(s): Swaffield, Jim
Roberts, S Craig
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Keywords: Food preference
Optimal foraging
Harsh environment
Evolutionary consumption
Life history theory
Issue Date: Jun-2015
Date Deposited: 18-Apr-2016
Citation: Swaffield J & Roberts SC (2015) Exposure to cues of harsh or safe environmental conditions alters food preferences. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1 (2), pp. 69-76.
Abstract: In humans, psychological stress is positively correlated with an increased desire for certain energy-dense food items, indicating that stress may trigger foraging behavior that adapts to perceived current and future resource availability. However, the extent to which such processes influence desire for different kinds of foods remains unclear. Here, we examine the effects of perceived environmental conditions on food preferences across the food spectrum of dairy, meats, vegetables, fruit, grains, and sweets. We first showed images of 30 different food items to participants and recorded their stated desire to eat each kind of food. We then repeated this procedure after exposing participants to cues of either a harsh or a safe environment. As predicted, we found cues of environmental harshness increased the desirability of energy-dense food items. However, there was also evidence for decreased desirability for energy-dense food items following exposure to cues of a relatively safe environment. Our findings indicate that simple manipulations of perceived environmental conditions may trigger changes in desire for different kinds of food. Our study has relevance for increasing efforts to understand eating behavior in order to promote uptake of healthier diets.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s40806-014-0007-z
Rights: © The Author(s) 2014 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.
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