Psychology A2 AQA Eating Behaviour & Anorexia Nervosa

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  • Created by: JessicaL
  • Created on: 01-05-13 18:55

Eating Behaviour

Attitudes towards food

a) Early experiences


(i) Exposure to food - the more you are exposed to a certain food, the more you enjoy it. 

(ii) Social Learning - by watching other people eat and enjoy food (e.g. parent, peer), it will influence you into eating and enjoying the same food.

(iii) Classical Conditioning - pairing certain food with a reward creates a more positive attitude and makes you more likely to want to eat it. (especially in children)


Birch & Marlin (1982) - found eight to ten exposures were necessary before two year-olds would have a preference for a novel food. A direct relationship between exposure and food preference.

This supports the exposure to food theory because after these children were exposed to a certain food for eight to ten times, they then enjoyed the once novel food. 

Methodological - One problem with this study is that the children may have performed demand characteristics whereby they saw the researcher observing them and so thought he/she wanted them to like the food and so chose that food. The children may not have actually liked the food, they may have left it or may have copied a friend. If this didn't occur, the results may have shown different results.

Olivera (1992) - reported a clear influence over mother's intake of nutrients and their pre-school children.

This supports the theory that by watching other people eat and enjoy food, it will influence you to eat the same food and also enjoy it which is what Olivera found.

Methodological - One issue with this study is that it is correlational research. Therefore there is an issue of causality and understanding whether it is mother's intake of nutrients that influences the child or infact what the child asks for that determines what the mother eats. It could also be another alternative factor. Therefore we cannot make conclusive results without testing this experimentally by manipulated an Independent Variable (IV).

Lepper - found children preferred the food that they were told was a reward (when made up and told to eat their * before they could have their *).

This supports the idea of Classical Conditioning. That by symbolising a certain food as a reward, children will be more likely to want to eat and eat this food, even if the food is fictious. 

Methodological - One problem with Lepper's study was that it was a small sample. This means that it lacks population validity as only a small number of children were tested. The results, therefore, cannot be generalised to other cultures or to older people because this


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