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Title: An exploration of the relationships between personality, eating behaviour and taste preference
Author: Day, Catherine Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 0375
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2009
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Taste is a fundamental determinant of food acceptance; it is the primary reinforcer in the complex process of food choice. The examination of individual difference factors in other complex behaviours have increased our understanding of other psychological processes and behaviours, despite this, these remain largely overlooked in the appetite and eating behaviour literature. This research explored individual differences in taste preference in non-clinical populations. The principle aim was to examine personality factors that predict taste preference for a number of taste dimensions, using a biological model of personality (Cloninger, 1987). In addition, the research examined the relationship between taste preference and cognitive characteristics of eating behaviour (using the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire; TFEQ), and also body mass (BMI). In study 1 the relationships between personality and self-rated usual taste preference were explored for tastes dimensions sweet, salty, umami, bitter, sour and spicy. The results indicated that small amounts of variance in taste preference could be explained by personality. Study 2, an exploratory study, sought to further examine relationships between personality and taste preference using real-food samples. This study also examined relationships between personality and characteristics of eating behaviour (TFEQ). Consistent relationships with study 1 were revealed, particularly related to sweet and sour tastes. Preference for the taste of high-calorie dense foods was examined in the final studies. Study 3 examined individual differences in preference for lemon-flavoured drinks with increasing intensities of glucose. Sweet tooth, usual sweet and sour and measures of eating behaviour were also explored. Associations between sweet tooth and personality factors, and also preferred drink choice and personality were related to the inhibition and maintenance system. The final study produced UK normative data for the Fat Preference QuestionnaireRTM for both males and females. Furthermore this final study explored individual differences in fat preference. Preference for high fats was found to be associated with scores of Restraint and BMI, rather then personality. Overall, the conclusion drawn is that taste preference and characteristics of eating behaviour are associated with personality factors. Approach and avoidance behaviours characterised by constructs of Harm Avoidance and Reward Dependence are implicated in the process of explicit liking in terms of taste, rather than reward processes characterised by Novelty Seeking behaviour. Although the amount of variance may be small, personality factors are involved in the complex process of food choice, and therefore, future research examining food choice and eating behaviour should pay attention to these important individual differences.
Supervisor: Mchale, Sue ; Francis, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available