Optimistic bias and food

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Food consumption patterns are influenced by a number of factors, including social and cultural factors. It is difficult to effect dietary change, and one possible barrier to dietary change is optimistic bias. Research indicates that individuals tend to believe that they are less likely to experience negative events, and more likely to experience positive events than their peers; this phenomenon is known as optimistic bias. It has been argued that optimistic bias may have a negative impact both on self-protective behaviour and on efforts to promote risk-reducing behaviours. The present article reviews the literature investigating optimistic bias specifically in the food domain. The review indicated that many food and nutrition issues are associated with optimistic bias. This has important implications for health-promotion activities in the food domain. The paper also describes key aspects of the methodology used to investigate optimistic bias and details the conditions under which optimistic bias has been demonstrated. The importance of identifying the causes of optimistic bias is discussed, and empirical attempts designed to reduce optimistic bias by countering the causes are reviewed. Finally, directions for future research are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalNutrition Research Reviews
Issue number01
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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