Promoting Healthy Eating Practices through Persuasion Processes

The successful impact of healthy eating campaigns often depends on the extent to which messages are effective in changing attitudes and behaviors over time. The present work proposes that healthy eating campaigns can be designed taking into consideration elaboration and validation processes so that the degree of attitude change is maximally influenced and is consequential. The first set of studies described in this review demonstrates the importance of considering elaboration in determining initial attitudes toward healthy foods as well as the subsequent attitude strength consequences (e.g., stability, prediction of behavior, spreading). The second set of studies focuses on the role of perceived validity of one’s thoughts in the domain of eating as a potential mediator of the persuasive process. These studies include campaigns promoting positive attitudes toward healthy eating (e.g., eating of vegetables and fruits), and interventions oriented to decreasing the intake of unhealthy food (e.g., taxing junk food). We also discuss the role of modality of information presentation (e.g., verbal and visual information vs. direct physical experience) in those studies. Finally, the review offers a tutorial with concrete recommendations that researchers, practitioners and public policy makers can follow in order to predict both short and longterm attitude and behavior changes.

Requero, B., Santos, D., Cancela, A., Briñol, P., & Petty, R. E. (in press). Promoting healthy eating practices through persuasion processes. Basic and Applied Social Psychology.