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Discuss one evolutionary explanation for food preference 6+10
One evolutionary explanation for food preference is the taste aversion. Bait shyness was discovered
by farmers. They found it was difficult to kill the rats by using poisoned bait because rats would only
take a small amount of any new food and if they become ill they would rapidly learn to avoid it. Garcia
found that rats that were made ill through radiation shortly after eating saccharin, developed an
aversion to it and very quickly associated their illness with the saccharin.
Research has found that not only taste but also the odour of food can be linked to illness and
consequently to the development of food aversion. The development of taste aversion helped our
ancestors to survive because, if they were lucky enough to survive eating poisoned food, they would
not make the same mistake again. There is also the `medicine effect' which is also evidence that
animals can learn a preference that makes them healthier. Garcia found that when a distinctive
flavour is presented to a thiamine-deficient rat and then followed by an injection of thiamine, the
animal will acquire a preference for that flavour.
There is empirical support for the explanation of taste aversion
Seligman found that different species evolved different learning abilities, something he called
Therefore, natural selection of differential learning has occurred so that each species has the ability
to learn certain associations more easily than others, particularly those associations that help
This suggests that taste aversion is an evolutionary process in survival, as it allows for those to
associate bad food and therefore will live and pass on the abilities.
The EEA lacks reliability as we cannot travel back.
We can study chimps that face similar adaptive problems.
Alternatively we may look for modern day human products that reflect evolved food preferences,
however, ultimate causes in food preferences may mask more proximate causes such as adverts and
This suggests that we cannot be sure of the conclusions found from the EEA as there are many
modern day influences affecting food preferences, and therefore it lacks reliability and validity.