Study debunks comfort-food and stress theory

Oct. 8, 2009
Nostalgia-inspired and comfort foods are among some of the hottest trends based on the commonly held belief that consumers turn to such foods in times of stress. But a new study from the University of South Carolina shows that people undergoing significant change in their lives are more likely to turn to unfamiliar foods, including better-for-you options according to a story by HealthDay News.
From HealthDay News:
"I am personally a creature of habit. That's why I am so interested in how people adapt to change," said lead researcher Stacy Wood, Moore Research Fellow and associate professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina. "While comfort foods do have a soothing function and really do make us feel good, we don't turn to them as readily as we think we do."
Wood's research, titled "The Comfort Food Fallacy: Avoiding Old Favorites in Times of Change," was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Over the course of several studies involving several hundred students, Wood found that increasing levels of stress and change correlated with an individual's tendency to pick unfamiliar products. These instinctive choices occurred even when the students expressed agreement with the notion that people choose familiar comfort foods when they are undergoing daily stresses or life changes.
Wood said more research is needed to explain why the comfort-food theory may be a fallacy.

Topics: Food & Beverage , Operations Management , Trends / Statistics

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