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Effects of Peer Models' Food Choices and Eating Behaviors on Preschoolers' Food Preferences

Leann Lipps Birch
Child Development
Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 489-496
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129283
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129283
Page Count: 8
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Effects of Peer Models' Food Choices and Eating Behaviors on Preschoolers' Food Preferences
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Abstract

The influence of peer models' food selections and eating behaviors on preschoolers' food preferences was investigated. 39 children's preferences for vegetables were assessed. Seating in the lunchroom was based on preference data. A target child who preferred vegetable A to B was seated with 3 or 4 peers with opposite preference patterns. 17 situations were arranged. Children were served their preferred and nonpreferred vegetable pairs at lunch and asked to choose 1. On day 1 the target child chose first, while on days 2, 3, and 4 peers chose first. The results of a McNemar test for changes indicated that the target children showed a significant shift from choosing their preferred food on day 1 to choosing their nonpreferred food by day 4 (χ 2 = 5.82, p < .05). Consumption data corroborated these results. In postinfluence assessment, 12 of 17 target children increased their preference for the nonpreferred vegetable; less than half of the peers did so. On a 9-point scale the median increase in preference for target children was 2.5 positions. Younger children were more affected by peer modeling than older children.

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