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Appetite. 1993 Apr;20(2):111-23.

Reduction of neophobia in humans by exposure to novel foods.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Erindale College, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.


In the first part of a two-part study we attempted to determine whether individuals consider novel foods (in comparison to familiar foods) to be dangerous and expect to dislike their tastes, and, if so, whether willingness to eat them is systematically related to the degree of perceived danger and expected disliking. A series of multiple regression analyses revealed that disliking and danger are both good predictors of willingness to try novel foods while willingness to try familiar foods is predicted only by disliking. In the second part of the study we examined experimentally the effect of "forced" exposure to novel foods on subsequent neophobia. Some subjects were required to taste seven novel foods while others tasted seven similar familiar foods; all subjects were then given the task of selecting for tasting one member of each of 11 pairs of foods. The pairs were comprised of one novel and one familiar food (different from those used in the exposure to novelty manipulation), and number of novel choices was the measure of neophobia (with fewer choices indicative of greater neophobia). The results were discussed in terms of the usefulness of considering food neophobia as a phobia in the sense in which clinical psychologists use the term.

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