Thursday, December 27, 2018

5-year-olds judged conventional eaters more positively than unconventional eaters, judge ingroup & outgroup members negatively for unconventional choices

Children judge others based on their food choices. Jasmine M. DeJesus et al. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 179, March 2019, Pages 143-161.

•    5-year-olds judged conventional eaters more positively than unconventional eaters.
•    Unconventional foods were judged as negatively as disgust elicitors.
•    Children judge ingroup and outgroup members negatively for unconventional choices.
•    Children appreciate food choice as a behavior conveying social meaning.

Abstract: Individuals and cultures share some commonalities in food preferences, yet cuisines also differ widely across social groups. Eating is a highly social phenomenon; however, little is known about the judgments children make about other people’s food choices. Do children view conventional food choices as normative and consequently negatively evaluate people who make unconventional food choices? In five experiments, 5-year-old children were shown people who ate conventional and unconventional foods, including typical food items paired in unconventional ways. In Experiment 1, children preferred conventional foods and conventional food eaters. Experiment 2 suggested a link between expectations of conventionality and native/foreign status; children in the United States thought that English speakers were relatively more likely to choose conventional foods than French speakers. Yet, children in Experiments 3 and 4 judged people who ate unconventional foods as negatively as they judged people who ate canonical disgust elicitors and nonfoods, even when considering people from a foreign culture. Children in Experiment 5 were more likely to assign conventional foods to cultural ingroup members than to cultural outgroup members; nonetheless, they thought that no one was likely to eat the nonconventional items. These results demonstrate that children make normative judgments about other people’s food choices and negatively evaluate people across groups who deviate from conventional eating practices.

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