Researchers from City, University London in the UK showed how people choose healthier food options to impress people from other social groups. The study is published in the journal Psychology & Marketing.
The researchers examined 1000 participants from different countries in a series of experiments. They surveyed the participants’ group membership, food choices, and perceived self-categorization in terms of race, university affiliation, work affiliation, etc.
The results showed that people—in the presence of different racial, social, or occupational groups—tend to make healthier food choices.
In the presence of outsiders, they place themselves in a judgemental environment and fear being judged negatively for their choice of unhealthy or indulgent food. In a way, people choose healthier food strategically to make a positive impression on the ‘outsider’ onlooker or observer, like someone from a different racial group or university.
One of the lead researchers, Dr. Janina Steinmetz, explained the psychology behind such behavior: “[This is because] food plays an important role in social life and consumers often make inferences about others’ traits and characteristics based on their food choices.”
The researchers are enthusiastic that the study bears positive implications for healthy eating practices and policy-makers and marketers of healthy food.
To Know More You May Refer To
Touré‐Tillery, M., Steinmetz, J., & DiCosola, B. (2022). Feeling judged? How the presence of outgroup members promotes healthier food choices. Psychology & Marketing. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21667