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Healthy Eating and Consumers’ Food Related Beliefs. Paul Naughton, AFRC & UCC Dr. Sinead McCarthy, AFRC Dr. Mary McCarthy, UCC. Outline of the presentation . Introduction to the study Social cognition approach to understanding human behaviour Social Cognitive Models (SCMs)

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healthy eating and consumers food related beliefs

Healthy Eating and Consumers’ Food Related Beliefs

Paul Naughton, AFRC & UCC

Dr. Sinead McCarthy, AFRC

Dr. Mary McCarthy, UCC

outline of the presentation
Outline of the presentation
  • Introduction to the study
  • Social cognition approach to understanding human behaviour
  • Social Cognitive Models (SCMs)
    • Motivational Models
    • Behavioural Enaction Models
  • Proposed Health Behaviour Model
  • Conclusion and future research
  • Purpose: To investigate the determinants of healthy eating behaviours among Irish people
  • Definition of Healthy Eating: Balanced diet
    • + Foods high in fibre such as wholemeal products, vegetables and fruits
    • - Foods high in saturated fats and refined grains
  • The role of healthy eating in health outcomes
    • Unhealthy diets are associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type two diabetes, strokes, certain cancers and even a range of mental conditions (COM, 2007).
    • Obesity is a global epidemic (WHO, 1998)
    • Excess calorie consumption and/or inadequate physical activity are the main sources of overweight and obesity for the majority of people (IMO, 2006)
  • Definition of Health behaviours: Any action undertaken by an individual for the purpose of detecting and preventing disease or for improving or maintaining good health and well-being (Conner and Norman, 2005).
    • Diet is a self-directed health behaviour
social cognition approach to health behaviour
Social cognition approach to health behaviour
  • Social cognition is concerned with how individuals make sense of social situations. This approach focuses on individual cognitions or thoughts as processes which intervene between observable stimuli and responses in real world situations (Fiske and Taylor, 1991).
  • Predicting health behaviours and the importance of social cognitive factors
    • Research suggests that there are a variety of factors that account for individual differences in propensity to undertake health behaviours.
      • Intrinsic factors pertaining to the individual (e.g. socio-demographic variables, cognitions)
      • Extrinsic factors related to the environment (e.g. government regulations).
  • Social cognitive factors are considered to be the most important proximal determinants of health behaviours (Conner and Norman, 2005)
social cognitive models scms
Social Cognitive Models (SCMs)
  • Several models of health behaviour have been designed in an attempt to identify and describe the social cognitive factors that are related to the performance of health behaviours.
  • Social cognition models are based on the assumption that an individuals behaviour is best understood in terms of his or her perceptions of the social environment.
  • Armitage and Conner (2000) distinguish three types of SCMs:
    • Motivational models
    • Behavioural enaction models
    • Multi-stage models
motivational models
Motivational models
  • Motivational models focus on the factors that underlie individuals’ decisions to perform or not perform health enhancing behaviours.

Health Belief Model (HBM)

Protection Motivation Theory (PMT)

Norman et al. (2005)

Abraham and Sheeran (2005)

Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB)

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)

Ajzen (2009)

Bandura (2000)

motivational models continued
Motivational models (continued)
  • Research concerned with developing models which explain the role of cognitive variables in the motivational phase is dominant
  • Motivational models are rooted in expectancy-value theory
    • The implication is that all four may be combined
    • Major theorists model of behaviour (1991)
  • The TPB has been identified as the most impressive of the motivational models vis-à-vis the amount of variance in intention and behaviour explained.
    • The constructs in the HBM, PMT and SCT are poorly defined
  • The major criticism of motivational models is the intention-behaviour gap
behavioural enaction models
Behavioural enaction models
  • Behavioural enaction models are principally concerned with improving intention-behaviour relations
    • Focus is on action control strategies in order to ensure that motivation is translated into behaviour.
  • Gollwitzer (1993) elaborated on the intention construct making a distinction between goal intentions and implementation intentions.
    • Implementation intentions commit the individual to a specific course of action when certain environmental conditions are met.
  • Bagozzi (1992) proposed that desires provide the motivational impetus for intentions. The belief constructs established in motivational models work through desires to influence (energise) intentions.
    • Perugini and Bagozzi (2001) developed the Model of Goal directed Behaviour (MGB)
proposed health behaviour model

Modifying Factors



Past experience/family problems



Cooking skills







Personal Goals






Major theorists model of behaviour


Proposed Health Behaviour Model

Health Motivation

Threat Appraisal






Behavioural Intention




Subjective norm

Normative beliefs

Moral norm







New Constructs

conclusion and future research
Conclusion and future research
  • According to Armitage and Conner (2000), through the extensive research using motivational models we have developed a clear idea of the social cognitive determinants of intentions. It is now imperative to take a closer look at the theories which outline how those intentions may be put into effect.
    • A general model of health behaviour should be able to encapsulate both intention formation and behavioural enaction.
  • Proposed Research
    • Semi-structured interviews
    • Self-completion Questionnaires
  • Significance and Industry Impact of Study
    • This study will contribute to an improved understanding of peoples food related health beliefs, attitudes and motivations and this should enable food companies to optimise their business strategies to meet the needs and wants of health conscious consumers
    • It will provide evidence based policy recommendations to government agencies seeking to change consumer behaviour.