Discuss factors influencing attitudes to food and eating behaviour

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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.
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Another factor that has been researched into attitudes for eating behaviour is mood. Psychologists have found that individual’s mood can be a strong predictor of their eating behaviour, and in particular – stress. Psychologists such as Spillman (1990) have found that stress can increase food intake, however Popper et al found that stress decreases food intake.

Support for Birch’s theory of Exposure affecting eating behaviour comes from research carried out by Birch and Marlin (1982) who carried out research on adolescents (2 year olds) over a 6 week period and found that 8-10 exposures of new ...

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