Objective: The effects of positive- and negative peer modelling on children's consumption of a novel blue food, presented in each of four snack meals during an "activity" day, were evaluated. It was predicted that: (i) novel food consumption would increase after positive modelling, but decrease after negative modelling; (ii) modelling effects would generalise to a second novel blue food when participants were alone when they ate their snack; (iii) that positive modelling would reverse the effects of negative modelling.
Design: A mixed design was employed with random assignment to either Groups A, B, or C (equal numbers of males and females per group). Within groups, each participant received the novel food on four snack occasions. Group A received positive modelling of blue food consumption on the first and third occasions, but were alone when they received the foods on the second and fourth occasions; Group B had negative modelling on the first occasion, positive modelling on the third, and ate alone on the second and fourth; Group C ate alone on all four occasions. To measure generalisation, an additional blue food was presented in all second and fourth "alone" occasions.
Participants: Thirty-five 5-7-year olds took part in Study 1, and 44 3-4-year olds in Study 2.
Results: All main predictions were confirmed except that positive peer modelling did not reverse the effects of negative modelling in the 3-4-year olds.
Conclusion: Negative peer modelling inhibits novel food consumption, and its effects are particularly difficult to reverse in younger children.