The relationship between emotions, food consumption and meal acceptability when eating out of the home
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Journal: Food Quality and Preference
Eating out of the home is becoming more prevalent and although many aspects have been studied, emotions remain an under-researched area, despite having been shown to play a significant role in food consumption. The aim of this research, therefore, is to evaluate how emotions affect dietary choice and meal acceptability in a realistic eating environment. Diners (n=408) in a student cafeteria completed a Pre-meal Emotional Status questionnaire, then chose and paid for their meal before finding a table/seat where it could be consumed. Once finished, they returned with their plate and completed a similar questionnaire. Results show that the rank order of emotions, as described by 47 words (expressions), demonstrate a greater propensity of positive over negative emotions. They were altered by eating a hot main meal where, in the main, they tended to be flattened. The variables, gender, eating alone or with others, age and year of study, were considered important, pre to post-meal. Males appear to be more positively disposed than females; the negative emotions, less clear by gender; eating alone heightens positive emotions; older subjects are more heightened negatively before a meal, which is flattened post-meal consumption; first year students' emotions are heightened positively both pre and post-meal. Emotions had no influence on which meal (traditional, pizza, pasta and jacket potato with filling) was selected, although there was a weak association between the meals eaten and subsequent emotion. In general, positive emotions induced higher meal acceptability; negative emotions lowered acceptability scores; the variables, gender, eating alone or with others and age had no influence on meal acceptability, although year of study did. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.