Today’s Solutions: April 18, 2024

Humans are social creatures, and our behaviors, particularly those linked to eating, are frequently influenced by what we watch in others. Social modeling is an important phenomenon that influences our dietary preferences and consumption patterns.

Evaluating facial expressions and food preferences

Dr. Katie Edwards of Aston University School of Psychology conducted a recent study in the UK on the effect of facial expressions on food preferences, specifically raw broccoli. Dr. Edwards discusses the study’s significance in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

“We show that watching others eating a raw vegetable with a negative facial expression reduces adult women’s liking of that vegetable, but not their desire to eat it,” Dr. Edwards said.

The impact of positive and negative expressions

The study, which included almost 200 young women, showed participants movies of adults eating raw broccoli, each with a distinct facial expression—positive, neutral, or negative. Surprisingly, negative attitudes reduced the vegetable’s likability, while positive expressions did not increase it.

“Watching others eating a raw vegetable with a positive facial expression did not increase adults’ vegetable liking or eating desire,” Dr. Edwards observed.

Unraveling the complexity of food preferences

According to Dr. Edwards, disgust for foods may be a natural defensive mechanism against potentially hazardous or unappealing things. This study reveals the complex link between apparent enjoyment, facial expressions, and true food preferences.

Implications for children’s eating habits

While the study focused on adults, Dr. Edwards suggests that comparable processes may influence children’s dietary choices. Negative facial expressions from adults may have a major impact on children, who are generally unwilling to try veggies.

“For example, if a child sees their parent showing disgust whilst eating vegetables, this could have negative consequences on children’s vegetable acceptance,” Dr. Edwards said.

The utilization of video clips rather than static pictures or live demonstrations set this study apart. This method provided a more realistic image of dynamic facial expressions, allowing for a better understanding of the topic.

Dr. Edwards proposes that future research should look at the effects of observing live dining experiences and how these findings relate to actual vegetable consumption among adults.

“We also need more research to see whether the findings from this study translate to adults’ actual intake of vegetables,” said Dr. Edwards.

The complexity of social modeling in food choices

While the study underlines the importance of social modeling in shaping eating patterns, it also emphasizes the need for additional research, particularly in live settings and across age ranges. Understanding these distinctions may pave the way for more effective efforts to promote healthier eating habits.

Source study: Frontiers in Psychology—Exposure to models’ negative facial expressions whilst eating a vegetable decreases women’s liking of the modelled vegetable, but not their desire to eat

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

The story “pedal”-er: how an ice-cream cart library is changing lives in Karachi

Mohammad Noman bikes carefully and purposefully through the labyrinthine lanes of Karachi's Lyari Town, among the rush and bustle of everyday life. Though his ...

Read More

Scientists astonished to find 700 new species in Cambodia’s mysterious ...

Embark on a journey to discover the hidden riches concealed beneath Cambodia's mangrove forests, where nature thrives against the backdrop of endangered landscapes. A ...

Read More

4 simple ways to feel at your absolute best this summer

The sunshine of summer is enough to make you feel better than you usually do throughout the year. But with a few changes to ...

Read More

Indians recently planted 250 million trees—while socially distancing

India is committed to keeping a third of its total land area under forest and tree cover. In recent years the country has mobilized ...

Read More