Magical food and health beliefs: a portrait of believers and functions of the beliefs
Aarnio, K.; Lindeman, M.
Appetite 43(1): 65-74
The aims of the present two studies were to delineate a portrait of people who are attracted to magical beliefs about food and health and to study the self-reported functions for the beliefs. Participants were Finnish men and women ranging in age from 15 to 66 years (N=3261 in study 1 and N=189 in study 2), and they filled in either an Internet-based or a paper questionnaire. The believers were more often women than men, vegetarians than omnivores, and they relied more on alternative medicine, thought in a more intuitive way, and demonstrated more eating-disordered thinking than the nonbelievers. Additionally, the believers had experienced slightly more negative life events than the nonbelievers in study 1 but contrary to our hypothesis, they did not differ in their desire for control. The believers reported value-expressive function as the most important one served by their beliefs, followed by the control and utilitarian functions. The emotional, intuitive nature of food beliefs and their connection to values and identity are discussed.