74 Environmental Food Cues

Based on Research by Sosja Prinsen, Denise T.D. de Ridder, et al, 2013. Psychology Science Minute written by Kyle Piecora, M.S..

Do you ever wonder what factors might influence you to eat more or less of certain foods?

Psychology researchers in the Netherlands placed a bowl of chocolates on the counter at a bakery, either by itself, or with a bowl of empty wrappers.  The presence of empty wrappers was manipulated, to suggest whether others had or had not eaten chocolate. When the empty wrappers were present, customers were over 2 times more likely to take a chocolate!

In another study, students were asked to read information about the effects of glucose levels on thinking and told to relax and eat, in order for their glucose levels to be ready for a new task requiring problem solving.  They were presented a snack tray containing healthy and unhealthy foods.  Next to the tray were different wrappers indicating whether others were eating the nutritious or unhealthy snacks.  Students picked up environmental cues and tended to choose the type of snack that they thought others ate!

Be aware that others’ examples influence your food choices!  Set your own path towards healthy eating by surrounding yourself with nourishing food choices and those who are eating wholesomely.  Realize also, that your example may influence others to make healthy food choices, too.


Prinsen, S., de Ridder, D.T.D., & de Vet, E.  (2013).  Eating by example.  Effects of environmental cues on dietary decisions.  Appetite, 70, p. 1-5.

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