Body mass index moderates the effect of social exemplars on food choice

B. Chang, O. Klein, A. Cleeremans


Seeing an obese versus a thin exemplar can influence eating behavior, but the effects from the literature have been inconsistent. The present research investigates whether these discrepancies may be due in part to participant BMI having a moderating effect on food choice. Across three experiments, we found that participants’ own BMI moderated the effect of exemplar weight on food choice. That is, the greater the participant’s BMI, the more likely they were to make a lower-calorie choice when they saw an obese rather than a thin exemplar. This interaction occurred regardless of whether the exemplar was eating or not, suggesting that it is not dependent on priming an association between obesity and unhealthy eating. Instead, we propose that these effects are driven by self-regulatory social comparison processes.


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Copyright (c) 2016 B. Chang, O. Klein, A. Cleeremans

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