Student Summer Scholars


Reducing an Impact Bias Towards a Health Food

First Advisor

Dr. Amanda Dillard


impact bias, adaptation recall, anticipated emotion, eating behaviors


Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Psychological Phenomena and Processes

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Affective forecasting theory says that when people make decisions, they tend to overestimate the intensity and duration of feelings, a phenomenon known as the impact bias (Buehler & McFarland, 2001; Gilbert, Pinel, Wilson, Blumberg, & Wheatley, 1998). The aim of this research was to explore the impact bias as it applies to healthy food choices that have been linked to lower risk of diet related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. In the present study, we tested if participants showed an impact bias toward kale. We further tested an adaptation recall intervention to reduce a potential impact bias as well as motivate intentions to eat healthy. After participants read a message about kale and before eating kale, they completed measures on their anticipated emotions that would occur when eating kale. Then they reported experienced emotions after eating kale. Results indicated that participants showed an impact bias towards kale: they overestimated the amount of negative emotion they would have while eating and underestimated the positive emotion they would have. Further the negative emotion effect was moderated by the intervention such that relative to the control group, those in the adaptation recall group experienced the least negative emotion after eating. Those in the adaptation recall group also reported higher intentions to eat more kale in the next two weeks (but this effect was marginal). There were no significant differences for the intervention in how pleasurable participants rated the kale or how much they ate. These findings may suggest that reminding people of their ability to adapt could reduce their negative affect toward health foods and may ultimately motivate more healthy food choices.