Bailey Immel gives second-year talk at UC Santa Barbara's Mini-Con

Bailey gave a talk titled "Children’s Use of Food to Understand Nationality" at UC Santa Barbara's Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences annual Mini-Con.

May 26, 2022

Bailey presented research done in collaboration with Dr. Zoe Liberman.

Description: Food conveys a significant amount of social information and even the youngest among us understand its sociality. For example, children use food choice and eating behavior to think about who is affiliated (Shutts, et al. 2009). However, it’s unclear whether children understand the cultural nature of food and know that it should be connected with markers of cultural group membership, such as nationality. In Study 1, we find that children believe that individuals from a familiar country (America) eat familiar foods, while people from an unfamiliar country eat unfamiliar foods. In Study 2, we ask whether children’s pairings in Study 1 were due to their expectations about what people from unfamiliar countries would eat, or if their choices were related to the forced-choice nature of the design. Additionally, we ask whether children’s own preferences for familiar foods and people impact their food pairings. We find that, even when given the option to say that nobody eats unfamiliar foods, children continue to match unfamiliar foods with people from an unfamiliar country. Additionally, children’s food preferences were the strongest when they were matching familiar foods with Americans. Finally, pro-American biases predicted younger, but not older, children’s food matching. Thus, children do have expectations for what individuals from both their own and other cultural groups will eat and these expectations are influenced by their own preferences for familiar foods and people.

Congratulations on your wonderful talk, Bailey!