Temperament and food neophobia in children and their mothers

Appetite. 1997 Jun;28(3):239-54. doi: 10.1006/appe.1996.0078.


We obtained measures of behavioral neophobia, rated neophobia, temperament, and liking for novel and familiar foods for 81 pairs of siblings (ranging in age from 5-11 years) and their mothers. The children's data revealed a decrease with age in behavioral but not rated neophobia, and there were positive correlations between both measures of neophobia and the temperament dimensions of emotionality, shyness, and negative reactions to foods. In addition, liking for good-tasting novel foods was negatively related to shyness and to negative reactions to foods. For mothers, both measures of neophobia were related to negative reactions to foods and unrelated to any other temperament dimensions. The data revealed little evidence of family resemblance (mother-child or sibling-sibling) in food neophobia.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality*
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Sex Factors