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Predicting incidental and focal food consumption behaviors

Samantha L. Moore-Berg (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) (Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Jessie C. Briggs (Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Andrew Karpinski (Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 3 June 2019

Issue publication date: 12 June 2019




There has been contradictory evidence as to whether implicit attitudes are more indicative of food consumption behavior than explicit attitudes. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the predictive validity of implicit attitudes for food consumption behaviors with two popular indirect measures – the implicit association test (IAT) and the affective misattribution procedure (AMP).


The authors examined the predictive validity of the IAT and AMP for focal and incidental food consumption behaviors (n=277).


Results revealed that the IAT and the AMP were more context-dependent than initially expected. The IAT only predicted incidental consumption behaviors in Study 1, and the AMP only predicted incidental consumption behaviors when preceding the IAT. However, the indirect measures provided unique variance for predicting incidental consumption behaviors. Only a direct, self-report measure predicted focal behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

These findings suggest that both the AMP and the IAT can predict incidental consumption behaviors, but the presence and strength of these effects may be moderated by unsuspected variables such as task order.

Practical implications

The current study provides evidence for the benefits of utilizing implicit measures in addition to self-report measures during consumer and market research.


This research reevaluates the predictive validity of the IAT and AMP for food consumption behaviors and employs two measures of food consumption behaviors.



Moore-Berg, S.L., Briggs, J.C. and Karpinski, A. (2019), "Predicting incidental and focal food consumption behaviors", British Food Journal, Vol. 121 No. 7, pp. 1508-1520.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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