Specific social influences on the acceptance of novel foods in 2-5-year-old children

Appetite. 2005 Dec;45(3):264-71. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2005.07.007. Epub 2005 Oct 18.


Social influences have been shown to be very important to overcome food neophobia in young children. However, there is no experimental evidence about whether social influences on food acceptance are specific, that is if models eating the same food as the child are more effective in promoting food acceptance than models eating a different food. We assessed children's behavior towards novel foods when an adult model (a) was not eating (Presence condition), (b) was eating a food of a Different color (Different color condition), and (c) was eating a food of the Same color (Same color condition). We tested 27 children (ages 2- to 5-years-old) recruited from The Pennsylvania State University day-care facilities. Results show that children accepted and ate their novel food more in the Same color condition than in the Different color and in the Presence conditions. Therefore, in young children food acceptance is promoted by specific social influences. These data indicate that children are more likely to eat new food if others are eating the same type of food than when others are merely present or eating another kind of food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Color
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Videotape Recording