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Is your weight loss plan related to your personality?

A brand new study published within the Journal of Cleaner Production explores food selections within the context of the Big Five personality traits in america and Norway.

Herein, the researchers conducted an internet survey of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and food selections. Norway and the U.S. were chosen for comparison as a result of the significantly different scales of biotechnology, farming, and farm support, various patterns of food consumption, and import rules between these two notions.

Study: Food values and personality traits in america and Norway. Image Credit: My Ocean Production / Shutterstock.com


Personality traits, that are measures of how a person thinks, feels, and acts, have been classified in various ways, including the Big Five Inventory (BFI). The BFI comprises being open to experience, conscientious, extraverted, agreeable, and neurotic (OCEAN).

OCEAN has been linked to how a person behaves about food and food selections. These include attitudes to food from the production level onward.

Earlier research indicated that being open and agreeable is said to creating higher dietary selections and food sustainability. In contrast, neuroticism and extraversion were more often linked to poor food selections.

Overall attitudes to food have been conjectured to be directly related to food selections regarding safety, dietary status, natural state, environmental impact, convenience, origin, fairness, traditional food values, taste and appearance, and price. These resemble the ten fundamental human values described by Schwartz, a few of which include benevolence, conformity, hedonism, security, power, and self-direction.

Prior studies have demonstrated that U.S. consumers put safety first, followed by cost, taste, health, and nutrition, which remain stable across a spectrum of meat products and milk. Notably, these respondents didn’t put much value on animal welfare, environmental health, food origin, or convenience.

In Norway, safety continued to top the list of preferences in such studies, whereas price was considered the sixth most vital consider food decisions.

Locally produced food promotes biodiversity, protects animal welfare, and boosts resilience. Conversely, globally produced products are cheaper.

Meat products help boost dietary quality in countries where less land is accessible for grains and pasture cultivation; nevertheless, ruminant farming increases carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Notably, meat farming practices are more sustainable in these countries as in comparison with the carbon footprint of importing vegetarian food products on a big enough scale.

What did the study show?

The researchers identified six segments based on personality traits and socioeconomic characteristics that were linked to the values predicting food selections.  

Each Norway and the U.S. were found to have people belonging to different segments, including health, altruistic, rational, and hedonistic segments. Norwegian, fairly than U.S. subjects, also belonged to natural and welfare segments. Conversely, two unique U.S. segments, including safety and indeterminate, were identified.

Overall shares

Safety, Health, and Altruism accounted for about 20% of the respondents. Comparatively, the Rational and Hedonistic segments were smaller at about 15% each. Among the many 12 food values, safety was first place, with 74% of respondents citing it as a dominant value.

The Health segment comprised respondents who valued safety, followed by nutrition, natural food, and taste. Similarly, the Altruism segment, wherein people primarily focused on food safety, also wanted natural food with a gentle environmental impact, along with valuing animal welfare and justice.

Within the Rational segment, respondents selected foods based on taste and price, putting twice as much weight on these aspects as in comparison with food safety.

The Natural segment included respondents who valued food origin, as indicated by their intense dislike for genetically modified (G.M.) food, natural food, and safety. The Welfare segment, which was primarily focused on animal welfare data, comprised 12% of respondents.

The Hedonistic segment comprised 10% of respondents and preferred taste over safety at whatever price or inconvenience. This segment was chosen to be the reference segment for comparison purposes.

Socioeconomic characteristics and food selections

As in comparison with the Hedonistic segment, females outnumbered males in Safety, Health, Altruistic, or Rational segments.

Those with a university education were thrice as distinguished within the Health segment and twice as common within the Altruistic or Rational segments. Similarly, those with a university education were 60% less prone to be within the Rational segment.

Those with a high income were twice as prone to be within the Health segment.

The welfare segment reduced with age, with a decline in membership odds by 4% annually. Older respondents were less indeterminate of their preferences at 5% less annually but were 3% more prone to be within the Rational segment with each additional 12 months.

People connected with a farm-based lifestyle were 4 times more prone to be within the Natural segment and twice as prone to be within the Altruistic segment than within the Hedonistic segment. These individuals were also twice as prone to be within the Indeterminate segment.

How personality affects food selections

With more openness to recent experiences, Welfare or Altruistic membership odds rose by over 60% for each standard deviation (S.D.) rise. Likewise, agreeableness increased by 50% for each S.D. rise in Natural, Welfare, or Altruistic segments.

Extraversion was related inversely to Welfare or Altruism, with a 30% drop in membership odds with each S.D. rise.

U.S. vs. Norway

U.S. consumers were more concerned about food safety, which dominated in a single Norwegian and 4 U.S. segments. Food prices were less determinative in Norway, likely as a result of greater economic parity. Conversely, each Rational and Hedonistic segments were primarily focused on the associated fee of their food products.

About 17% of respondents within the U.S. who comprised the Indeterminate segment didn’t value any specific food value above others.

Safety stays a top priority in just about all segments, corroborating earlier research. Fairness was also a vital value in Norway, while each countries reflected naturalness, environmental costs, and animal suffering as their top values. 

Rational consumers value taste and price twice as much as safety in Norway; nevertheless, this was not true within the U.S., where price and safety are the best concerns on this segment. Rational consumers were also highly focused on animal welfare, whereas taste was not a top priority.

Neuroticism was unrelated to food values in either country. Nonetheless, in Norway, those with greater relish for brand new things were more prone to be within the Altruistic segment, which cared about safety and animal welfare together with getting natural and sustainable food and maintaining justice.

Recent studies have shown that this kind of openness is accompanied by a willingness to pay for organic food. Within the U.S., such openness is more related to Health or Rational segments.

These people were also more prone to be within the Welfare segment in Norway, a segment not present in the U.S. Extraversion was shown on this study and a few previous research to be linked to Hedonistic food values in Norway, but not within the U.S.

What are the implications?

The definition of every segment based on personality characteristics and socioeconomic attributes is essential and will facilitate the marketing of sustainability-based foods. Such segments include consumers who’re regardful of environmental sustainability, justice, and animal welfare.

A lot of the influence of personality traits was linked to openness to experience and agreeableness, which favors value on societal advantages fairly than hedonistic appetites.

Such recognition of food-personality relationships may help sell sustainable food to more people by creating positive attitudes, the intention to buy, and actual purchase.

To encourage consumption of more sustainable food alternatives, sustainability messages might be targeted at individuals who rating high on extraversion and low on openness or agreeableness.”

Online behavior agrees well with personality traits, making it possible to focus on sales to potential consumers based on such traits.

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Journal reference:

  • Ardebili, A. T. & Rickertsen, K. (2023). Food values and personality traits in america and Norway. Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2023.137310.

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