Moral overtones of food: Judgments of others based on what they eat

Richard I. Steim, Carol J. Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Previous research found that meal size can affect judgments of eaters' attractiveness and femininity. The present study investigates whether eating specific types of foods-namely, healthy, nonfattening foods versus unhealthy, fattening ones-gives rise to moral judgments about the eaters. Subjects were presented with one of four bogus profiles of a person, which differed only in gender and foods consumed. Subjects rated the target on morality; potential mechanisms of effects were also explored. Results confirmed the hypothesis that moral judgments of others differ depending on the foods they eat. This result was not simply due to a halo effect but was explained by two mediational mechanisms: the Puritan ethic and the "you are what you eat" principle. However, the effect did not show predicted moderation by subject or target gender or restrained-eating status. Foods also seemed to influence subjects' perceptions of fitness and weight information about the target. Moral Aspects of Diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1995


Dive into the research topics of 'Moral overtones of food: Judgments of others based on what they eat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this