Author(s): Pliner P, Mann N
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Abstract In two parallel studies, we examined the effect of social influence and palatability on amount consumed and on food choice. In Experiment 1, which looked at amount consumed, participants were provided with either palatable or unpalatable food; they were also given information about how much previous participants had eaten (large or small amounts) or were given no information. In the case of palatable food, participants ate more when led to believe that prior participants had eaten a great deal than when led to believe that prior participants had eaten small amounts or when provided with no information. This social-influence effect was not present when participants received unpalatable food. In Experiment 2, which looked at food choice, some participants learned that prior participants had chosen the palatable food, others learned that prior participants had chosen the unpalatable food, while still others received no information about prior participants' choices. The social-influence manipulation had no effect on participants' food choices; nearly all of them chose the palatable food. The results were discussed in the context of Churchfield's (1995) distinction between judgments about matters of fact and judgments about preferences. The results were also used to illustrate the importance of palatability as a determinant of eating behavior.
This article was published in Appetite
and referenced in Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy