How Negative Experiences Shape Long-Term Food Preferences
eds. V.R. Preedy, R.R. Watson, and C.R. Martin, International Handbook of Behavior, Diet, and Nutrition. New York: Springer, 1705-1714, 2010
26 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 22, 2010
Does the context in which people first experience a foreign or unfamiliar food shape long-term preferences for that food? While there is abundant research demonstrating the immediate effects of environmental cues on food consumption, research investigating the potential long-term effects of contextual experiences with a food on preference remains scarce. Research generally examines the effect of specific food characteristics and for instance personality characteristics on food preferences, largely ignoring the very first experiences people had with a food. To better understand and predict people’s preferences for different types of foods, it is important to understand the origin of their preferences. To investigate this, in the present chapter, we rely on unique data on food preferences among soldiers involved in World War II. More specifically, we examine whether the trauma of combat shaped veterans preferences for Japanese and Chinese food based on a survey among 493 American veterans of World War II. Pacific veterans who experienced high levels of combat had a stronger dislike for these Asian foods than those Pacific veterans experiencing lower levels of combat. Consistent with expectations, combat experience for European veterans had no impact on their preference for Asian food. The situation in which one is initially exposed to an unfamiliar food may long continue to shape preferences, in the context of this research up to 60 years.
Keywords: world war 2, food preference, combat experience, neophobia, bias
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