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Casual snacking as an automatic process: a grounded cognition framework

Thorsten Teichert (Chair of Marketing and Innovation, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Philipp Wörfel (Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Claire-Lise Ackermann (Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 24 December 2020

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021




Snacking typically occurs as an automatic, consciously uncontrolled process which can lead to unintended health consequences. Grounded cognition informs about the multifaceted drivers of such automatic consumption processes. By integrating situation-, stimulus-, and person-specific factors, this study provides a holistic account of snacking.


A combined psychophysiological and behavioral experiment is conducted wherein participants can casually snack chocolate while participating in a survey setting. Implicit cognitions are assessed with the Implicit Association Test. The percentage of consumed chocolate serves as dependent variable in a Tobit regression with predictors at situation, stimulus and person level.


Chocolate snacking is positively influenced by personal craving tendencies, implicit food associations and situational contingency. We condense the results into an overarching framework in line with grounded cognition literature.

Practical implications

The multidimensional framework can guide consumer protection efforts to reduce excessive snacking habits based on situation, stimulus and person.


This study integrates theory from social cognition, consumer research, and behavioral food research and, thereby, extends the existing body of knowledge on grounded cognitions underlying snacking consumption.



Teichert, T., Wörfel, P. and Ackermann, C.-L. (2021), "Casual snacking as an automatic process: a grounded cognition framework", British Food Journal, Vol. 123 No. 5, pp. 1705-1721.



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