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The Influence of Social-Affective Context on the Formation of Children's Food Preferences

Leann Lipps Birch, Sheryl Itkin Zimmerman and Honey Hind
Child Development
Vol. 51, No. 3 (Sep., 1980), pp. 856-861
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129474
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129474
Page Count: 6
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The Influence of Social-Affective Context on the Formation of Children's Food Preferences
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Abstract

The effects of several social-affective presentation contexts on the formation of preschool children's food preferences were investigated. The children's preferences for a set of snack foods were initially assessed and a neutral food, neither highly preferred nor nonpreferred, was selected for each child. This snack food was then presented to the child in one of four social-affective contexts: (1) as a reward; (2) noncontingently, paired with adult attention; (3) in a nonsocial context; (4) at snack time. 16 children participated in each condition. Half of the children in each condition received a sweet snack food, half a nonsweet snack food. Results indicated that presenting foods as rewards or presenting them noncontingently paired with adult attention produced significant increases in preference, and the effects persisted for at least 6 weeks following termination of the presentations. In contrast, no consistent changes in preference were noted when the foods were presented in a nonsocial context or at snack time. The results suggest that the social-affective context in which foods are presented is extremely important in the formation of young children's food preferences.

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