Farrar, Stephanie T., Plagnol, Anke C., & Tapper, Katy. "The effect of priming on food choice: A field and laboratory study". Appetite. 168 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1016/J.APPET.2021.105749 (journal)


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; this 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 were less likely to select 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. The potential for mindfulness to reduce the selection of unhealthy foods also requires further investigation through experimental research.