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Appetite. 2004 Jun;42(3):279-86.

An exploration of affective priming as an indirect measure of food attitudes.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, Leuven 3000, Belgium.


During the last few years indirect measures of attitudes have been increasingly promoted. Because they are assumed to be less influenced by demand effects, these indirect measures would constitute a better basis to predict behaviour in some circumstances. In two studies, we examined the usefulness of the affective priming paradigm as an indirect measure of food likes and dislikes. Participants were asked to evaluatively categorize word targets, which were primed by individually selected positive and negative food pictures. The first experiment was a basic exploration of the usefulness of the affective priming paradigm to uncover food likes and dislikes, by making use of food stimuli that elicit strong evaluative reactions. The second experiment examined whether the paradigm can also be used in the context of weaker food (dis)likes. It could be demonstrated that both strongly (Experiments 1 and 2) and moderately (Experiment 2) evaluated food primes influenced the speed of responding to the positive and negative target words. No differential sensitivity for attitudes of moderate or extreme evaluative meaning could be demonstrated, however. The implications for future research and the applicability of this indirect index of food (dis)likes are discussed.

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