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Situation-Specific Social Norms as Mediators of Social Influence on Snacking


Schuz, B and Papadakis, T and Ferguson, SG, Situation-Specific Social Norms as Mediators of Social Influence on Snacking, Health Psychology pp. 1-7. ISSN 0278-6133 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2017 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/hea0000568


Objective: Social factors are among the most powerful and pervasive influences on eating behavior, snacking in particular. Previous research has shown that being in the presence of people who are eating significantly increases the likelihood of eating and affects the types as well as the amount of food consumed. Much less is known about the processes underlying social influence, but previous research has suggested social norms as mediators. In this study, we extended this perspective to everyday settings and examined whether the presence of other people eating leads to a change in perceived momentary norms, and whether this change predicts snack consumption in real life.

Method: We applied ecological momentary assessment to study 61 individuals in the normal– obese weight range (M BMI 24.97 kg/m2 ; SD 4.07) over a 14-day monitoring period. We used a combination of event-based snacking reports and randomly timed assessments. The presence of others eating and momentary perceptions of injunctive norms (facets of perceived appropriateness and encouragement) were measured for both assessment types.

Results: Mediated, multilevel logistic regression showed that social cues predict snacking (OR 3.06), and that momentary perceptions of appropriateness (a b 0.14) and encouragement (a b 0.18) partially mediated these effects.

Conclusion: Perceptions of momentary norms mediated the effects of social influence on everyday snacking, which highlights the importance of the social environment for understanding eating behavior.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:snacking, obesity, health
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Public health
Research Field:Preventative health care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Schuz, B (Dr Benjamin Schuez)
UTAS Author:Papadakis, T (Miss Thalia Papadakis)
UTAS Author:Ferguson, SG (Professor Stuart Ferguson)
ID Code:122711
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2017-11-23
Last Modified:2018-09-11

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