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Discuss factors influencing attitudes to food and eating behaviour

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Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked Discuss factors influencing attitudes to food and eating behaviour (8 and 16 marks) Psychologists have researched how different factors of our lives can affect our eating behaviour. Birch (1991) suggested that there are 3 ways in which attitudes towards food and eating behaviours are created. These are Exposure, Social Learning and Associative Learning. The Exposure aspect states that individuals like food which they are familiar with, and in order to change a person?s food preference we must expose them to the type of food we wish to enforce. The social learning aspect states that the eating behaviour of others that individuals observe have a major impact on their own eating behaviours e.g. observing someone with a healthy diet will lead to an impact of a healthy diet, either negatively or positively, being present in the individuals eating behaviour. And lastly the associative learning aspect states that individuals eat foods associated with good times and rewards and avoid or reject foods associated with bad times or punishments. ...read more.

Middle

Psychologists could also argue that at this chosen stage of life (2 Years) children are still learning how to behave, as they are more vulnerable to changes. So this change wasn?t purely due to exposure but also due to that stage in which the children are at and their individual differences. This matters because although it supports the theory due to the fact it cannot be generalised, it cannot be applied to eating behaviour and suggest that a study with adult participants would provide suitable evidence. Support for Birch?s theory on Social Learning comes from research carried out by Lowe et al (1998) who showed children videos of older children enjoying foods that the younger children had previously refused to eat. They found that after watching this video their food preferences significantly changed, suggesting that our food preferences can change through the observation of others. This supports the theory of social learning by showing the effect of observation, suggested by Birch, on eating behaviour, however this study was only carried out on children, which means we cannot generalise the results to a wider population for example adults. ...read more.

Conclusion

This matters because it cannot wholly support the statement that stress overall causes an increase in food intake. This suggets that more research must be carried out in order to determine if other forms of stress also lead to an increase of food intake. Support for the theory of stress decreasing food intake comes from Willenbring et al (1980) who carried out a lab study of participants and found that the participants ate less when they felt stressed. This research supports the theory by providing evidence of the effect of stress in eating behaviour. However this research is based on lab studies which although supports the theory lacks ecological validity and mundane realism as we cannot be sure to what extent these findings represent real ?life settings. Also because this evidence was based on lab studies, the findings may have been a result of demand characteristics. This matters because although the findings may support the theory, the evidence lacks external validity which further suggests that in order to fully support the theory more research must be carried out in real-life settings to result in valid findings. ...read more.

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