To read this content please select one of the options below:

Moral judgments of food wasting predict food wasting behavior

Michal Misiak (Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland)
Daniel Kruger (Population Studies Center and Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)
Jessica Sloan Kruger (Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Piotr Sorokowski (Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 13 May 2020

Issue publication date: 12 October 2020




People consider food wasting behavior to be immoral. However, it is not clear whether people who consider food wasting behavior immoral waste less food. Building on previous qualitative studies, we conducted a large-sample quantitative study. We examined whether people who consider food wasting behavior immoral display food wasting behaviors less frequently and whether they waste less food in general. Furthermore, we explored the reasons that make people consider food wasting behavior immoral and whether they affected food wasting.


Participants voluntarily (n = 562) completed a set of questionnaires that measured the frequency of their food wasting behavior, the amount of food wasted in the preceding week, and food wasting moral judgments, including scales, which explored the reasons for judging this behavior as immoral.


We found that people who regard food wasting behavior as immoral displayed food wasting behavior less frequently, but did not waste less food than people who did not consider food wasting behavior immoral. Furthermore, we found that there are two categories of reasons for moral disapproval of food wasting behavior: externally oriented (concern for the environment, social issues, and for future generations) and internally oriented (concern for ones’ financial situation, social approval, and going by traditional norms). However, only people whose moral judgments were motivated by externally oriented reasons wasted food less frequently.


Our findings provide evidence that moral judgments influence food wasting behavior and highlight the importance of the content of moral beliefs for predicting behaviors.



This study was supported by National Science Center, Poland (2016/23/N/HS6/00849 to Michał Misiak).


Misiak, M., Kruger, D., Kruger, J.S. and Sorokowski, P. (2020), "Moral judgments of food wasting predict food wasting behavior", British Food Journal, Vol. 122 No. 11, pp. 3547-3565.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles