Mere social knowledge impacts children’s consumption and categorization of foods

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jasmine M. DeJesus, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: How does social information affect the perception of taste early in life? Does mere knowledge of other people's food preferences impact children's own experience when eating? In Experiment 1, 5- and 6-year-old children consumed more of a food described as popular with other children than a food that was described as unpopular with other children, even though the two foods were identical. In Experiment 2, children ate more of a food described as popular with children than a food described as popular with adults. Experiment 3 tested whether different perceptual experiences of otherwise identical foods contributed to the mechanisms underlying children's consumption. After sampling both endpoints of a sweet-to-sour range (applesauce with 0 mL or 5mL of lemon juice added), children were asked to taste and categorize applesauce samples with varying amounts of lemon juice added. When classifying ambiguous samples that were near the midpoint of the range (2 mL and 3 mL), children were more likely to categorize popular foods as sweet as compared to unpopular foods. Together, these findings provide evidence that social information plays a powerful role in guiding children's consumption and perception of foods. Broader links to the sociality of food selection are discussed.

Additional Information

Developmental Science. 21(5), e12627. doi: 10.1111/desc.12627
Language: English
Date: 2018
food preferences, social information, child nutrition, developmental psychology

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