Discuss the role of one of more factors that influence attitudes to food:
It has been suggested that one factor that influences attitudes to food and eating behaviour is learning. There is evidence to suggest that infants are born with innate food preferences, particularly for sweet foods and display neophobia. However, it appears that neophobia decreases with age and with experience. On the other hand individuals might be influenced through the Social Learning Theory, whereby a person’s eating behaviour is influenced by observing models’ eating behaviour. This helps to explain why parents can affect their children’s attitudes to food. Another factor that affects children’s attitudes to food is their parents. In an early study, Duncker (1938) looked at the impact of ‘social suggestion’ on children’s food choices. The children participants observed a series of role models sampling food that was unfamiliar. The models were other children, a friend, their mother, an unknown adult, and a fictional hero. Duncker found that the children were most likely to sample the food that was modeled by their mothers, indicating that parental behavior and attitudes are an essential part of how children acquire their eating behaviours. Social Learning Theory (SLT) emphasises the impact of observing other peoples’ behavior on our own behavior, and is also known as ‘modeling’ or ‘observational learning’. Thus, children learn about eating not only through their own experiences, but also by watching others. As Duncker’s study shows, one way in which children acquire their eating behavior and attitude towards food is by observing the behavior of their parents. However, peer influences become more significant when children reach school age. Lowe et al (98) found that admired peers can be instrumental in increasing children’s intake of fruit and vegetables.