The aim of this study was to determine whether or not pleasure, neutrality, and disgust expressed by eaters in photographs could affect the desire to eat food products to a greater extent in children than in adults. Children of 5 and 8 years of age, as well as adults, were presented with photographs of liked and disliked foods. These foods were presented either alone or with an eater who expressed three different emotions: pleasure, neutrality, or disgust. Results showed that, compared with food presented alone, food presented with a pleasant face increased the desire to eat disliked foods, particularly in children, and increased the desire to eat liked foods only in the 5-year-old children. In contrast, with a disgusted face, the desire to eat the liked foods decreased in all participants, although to a greater extent in children, while it had no effect on the desire to eat the disliked foods. Finally, food presented with a neutral face also increased and decreased the desire to eat disliked and liked foods, respectively, and in each case more for the 5-year-olds than for the older participants. In sum, the facial expressions of others influence the desire to eat liked and disliked foods and, to a greater extent, in younger children.
©2011 The British Psychological Society.