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Dev Sci. 2012 Jan;15(1):87-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01106.x. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

I'll have what she's having: the impact of model characteristics on children's food choices.

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Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


This research investigates children's use of social categories in their food selection. Across three studies, we presented preschoolers with sets of photographs that contrasted food-eating models with different characteristics, including model gender, race (Black, White), age (child or adult), and/or expression (acceptance or rejection of the food). Children were asked to pick between the photographs to choose which food they would like for snack. Results demonstrated that preschoolers prefer foods being eaten by models with positive over negative expressions, foods being eaten by child over adult models, and foods being eaten by child models of the same gender as themselves over models of the other gender. This work connects with previous research on children's understanding of social categories and also has important practical implications for how characteristics of a food-eating model can affect children's willingness to try new foods.

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