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The effect of priming on food choice: A field and laboratory study

Farrar, S. T., Plagnol, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-5705-8949 & Tapper, K. ORCID: 0000-0001-9097-6311 (2022). The effect of priming on food choice: A field and laboratory study. Appetite, 168, article number 105749. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105749


Priming involves the activation of a mental concept in memory which increases the likelihood that it will be assimilated into subsequent information processing. The present study investigates whether exposure to prime stimuli can increase the selection of unhealthy foods, which is an important topic as priming has been found to influence judgements, decisions, and behaviour outside of awareness. Study one was a between-subjects field study which examined the effect of brief exposure to food-related logos on subsequent snack choice. Study two took this further by examining food choice following exposure to unhealthy food-related logos in a laboratory setting. No main effect of priming was found by either the field study or the laboratory study; the participants in both studies made similar food choices regardless of condition. However, the results of study two showed a significant main effect of trait mindfulness on food choice, whereby participants higher in trait mindfulness selected fewer unhealthy foods. In conclusion, further research is required to determine whether exposure to unhealthy food-related logos can increase the selection of unhealthy foods. Although the potential for mindfulness to reduce the selection of unhealthy foods looks promising, this also requires further investigation through experimental research.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Consumer behaviour, Advertising, Priming, Food logos, Food choice, Mindfulness
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
T Technology > TX Home economics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Priming Studies Manuscript.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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