The Social Psychology of Food

The Social Psychology of Food

The Social Psychology of Food

The Social Psychology of Food

Synopsis

• How can we understand food choice?

• What factors influence dietary change and weight control?

• How does stress influence eating?

• In what ways are foods used to present ourselves to others?

Food is central to the lives of all, and has for centuries been celebrated in art, poetry and song. More recently, media interest has focused public attention on the food we eat, and its influence on physical health and mental well-being. However, it is only in the past couple of decades that social scientists and social psychologists in particular have paid significant attention to the important topic of food. The Social Psychology of Food reviews this research from the perspective of social psychology.

Key issues are addressed such as the role of various factors in food choice, the process of dietary change, the role of food in weight control and disorders of eating, stress and eating, food and self-presentation. Social psychological concepts are used as ways of explaining and understanding each of these domains of food research. The selective and in-depth coverage of the book is designed to demonstrate what social psychology has contibuted to the field, and to provide an essential text for students and researchers in psychology and trainee professionals in health.

Excerpt

Food is central to the lives of all, and has for centuries been celebrated in art, poetry and song (e.g. Smith 1996). More recently, increased concentration from the media has focused public attention on the food we eat, and its influence on physical health and mental well-being. Until relatively recently, however, food had received no more than sporadic attention from social scientists. The past couple of decades have seen significant attention paid to the important topic of food by all kinds of social scientists, and particularly those from a social psychology background. Thus, food now appears to be of considerable interest to both social scientists and members of the public. There is also now a significant body of literature on food from a social psychological perspective, and it would seem timely to publish a text reviewing this literature.

This book reviews the key current research on food from the perspective of two social psychologists. Rather than trying to be comprehensive in this coverage, we have attempted to provide a more focused coverage of particular material. In selecting what to focus on we have tried to be led by what we believe to be the important areas of current research on food. But this selection has undoubtedly also been influenced by our own biases and interests. Probably this is most obvious in relation to the methodologies of the research we review. Our own research interests tend to focus upon quantitative research methods rather than qualitative methods, and this bias is reflected in our coverage of research. However, we would not want this to be taken as indicating that we do not see the value in qualitative research; indeed, we believe that some of the best research combines both qualitative and quantitative approaches. It is also true that in reviewing material we have not restricted ourselves to purely social psychological research. Instead, we have tried to present a range of material within a particular area in order to emphasize the contribution of social psychological studies to furthering understanding. We have also shown a bias towards reporting the results of our own research where it seemed appropriate. The justification has more to . . .

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