The Evolutionary Explanation for Food Preferences

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  • Evolutionary explanation for food preferences
    • Early Diets
      • Meats
        • Meat diets were full of nutrients needed for the growth of the brain
        • Milton (2008) - claimed that without animals, it would have been unlikely that humans would have gotten enough nutrients for survival
        • Fossil evidence shows a preference was mainly animal-based foods.
      • Sweet
        • Sweetness is associated with high concentration of available sugar and calories
        • In the EEA one source of suagr and calories was ripe fruit
          • Fruit also provided vitamins and minerals which are vital for growth and bodily functions
        • Due to this, early humans would have adapted to an innate preference for sweet-tasting foods.
        • Mennella (2014) - found that children with a preference for sweet over salty were tall for their age
        • FACT: Humans have more sweet receptors on their tastebuds
          • Provides evidence for sweetness being innate
    • Taste Aversion - A learnt response to eating toxic, spoiled or poisonous food, which results in the animal avoiding eating the food that made them ill in the future
      • Discovered by farmers who were trying to get rid of rats. They found when the rat tasted the food with poison, they'd only try a small portion, if they were ill they would constantly avoid that food.
        • Garcia tested this again in a lab. Rats were made ill through radiation after eating saccharin and Garcia later saw the rats would avoid eating saccharin.
    • Evaluation
      • Krebs - Not all food preferences are evolutionary but are influenced by the modern environment
      • Bell - Support for evolved preferences for sweet foods is cultures without experience of sweet foods show preference on their first exposure
      • Bernstein and Webster - Real life application: Some cancer patients may go through food aversion whilst undergoing chemotherapy as chemo. can cause gastrointestinal illness. B&W found that when a new tasting ice cream is given to patients before chemo. they avoid that flavour afterwards. This is called 'the scapegoat technique
      • Knaapila - Neophobia may be genetically determined as there was a higher concordance rate in MZ twins than DZ twins suggesting a genetic component within neophobia
        • Due to the correlation not being 100% this would suggest a component other than genetics being involved within neophobia
      • Perry - Neophobia can also be maladaptive as it is associated with poorer dietary quality in children
    • Neophobia
      • New foods are avoid as it is unknown if they are poisonous


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