Previous research, in which self‐report measures were used, showed that vegetarians have more negative beliefs about meat than nonvegetarians. An important limitation of this research is that it did not examine differences in spontaneous affective reactions (i.e., implicit attitudes) towards meat and other types of food. We therefore conducted a new study in which not only self‐report measures were used, but also two tasks that have been developed to measure implicit attitudes: The Implicit Association Test (IAT) and a pictorial version of the Extrinsic Affective Simon Task (EAST). Both the IAT and EAST revealed that implicit attitudes towards vegetables (as compared to implicit attitudes towards meat) were more positive in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians. In line with previous findings, the self‐report measures showed that, compared to nonvegetarians, vegetarians had more positive attitudes towards vegetables and more negative attitudes towards meat. The IAT and EAST measures both correlated in the expected manner with self‐reported attitudes. A logistic regression showed that self‐reported attitudes were an almost perfect predictor of group status (vegetarian or nonvegetarian), and that adding the IAT and EAST measures as predictors did not improve prediction of group status. The results suggest that vegetarians and nonvegetarians differ in their spontaneous affective reaction towards vegetables or meat, and provide further evidence for the validity of the IAT and EAST as measures of inter‐individual differences in attitudes. Implicit attitudes could influence eating behaviour indirectly by biasing the decision to become a vegetarian or by determining how difficult it is for someone to maintain a vegetarian diet.
International Journal of Psychology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 2007
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