Threatened belonging and preference for comfort food among the securely attached

Appetite. 2015 Jul:90:58-64. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.02.029. Epub 2015 Feb 26.


Research has shown that comfort food triggers relationship-related cognitions and can fulfill belongingness needs for those secure in attachment (i.e., for those with positive relationship cognitions) (Troisi & Gabriel, 2011). Building on these ideas, we examined if securely attached individuals prefer comfort food because of its "social utility" (i.e., its capacity to fulfill belongingness needs) in one experiment and one daily diary study using two samples of university students from the United States. Study 1 (n = 77) utilized a belongingness threat essay among half of the participants, and the results showed that securely attached participants preferred the taste of a comfort food (i.e., potato chips) more after the belongingness threat. Study 2 (n = 86) utilized a 14-day daily diary design and found that securely attached individuals consumed more comfort food in response to naturally occurring feelings of isolation. Implications for the social nature of food preferences are discussed.

Keywords: Attachment; Belongingness; Comfort food; Food preferences.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Diet Records
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Social Perception*
  • Young Adult