Implicit preference of sweets over fruit as a predictor of their actual consumption
Pavlović M., Žeželj I., Marinković M., Sučević J.
© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to test if our eating behavior is determined not only by conscious evaluations of certain foods (explicit attitudes), but also by their automatic evaluations (implicit attitudes). Design/methodology/approach: In two studies, the authors examined the predictive and incremental validity of these two types of attitudinal measures of eating behavior. Implicit attitudes were assessed with a standard implicit attitude test procedure (target categories were “sweets” and “fruit,” and attribute categories were “good” and “bad”); two explicit attitude measures were assessed: an explicit measure of preference for sweets over fruit and a semantic differential measure. The behavioral measure in Study 1 was the quantity of sweets consumed; in Study 2, it was a relative measure of sweets vs fruit consumption registered through a three-day diary. Findings: The relatively low correlation between implicit and explicit attitude measures indicated that these measures at least partially tap into different processes. Implicit attitudes proved to be superior over explicit attitudes in predicting food consumption, especially for consumption registered via diary. This fact suggests that implicit attitudes are powerful drivers of long-term behavior. Practical implications: The findings could be useful in tailoring interventions to promote healthier eating habits. Originality/value: The research tested predictive power of implicit food-related attitudes. It compared the food consumption in laboratory and real-life settings. A new measure for daily food consumption was developed and it was calculated relative to recommended serving size.