Bevelander, K. E., Anschütz, D. J., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2011). Social modeling effects in teenage girls in supermarkets. Appetite, 57 (1), 99-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.04.005

Ample experimental research has demonstrated the impact of peer influence on food intake in adolescents and adults. However, none of these studies focused social modeling effects on food purchases in supermarkets. This study investigated whether the food purchase behavior of a confederate peer would be adopted by the participant. Teenage girls (N=89) were asked to perform a shopping task in a local supermarket. They had to shop with a same-sex confederate peer who had been instructed earlier to purchase either five low-kilocaloric food products, five average-kilocaloric or five high-kilocaloric food products. Significant main effects for the experimental purchase condition and hunger were found on the amount of kilocalories of the purchased food products. Teenage girls who shopped with a peer in the high-kilocaloric condition purchased higher kilocaloric food products relative to the girls who shopped with a peer in the low-kilocaloric condition. In addition, girls who reported to be hungry purchased higher kilocaloric food products in general. These findings might imply that teenage girls follow unhealthy food purchases of a peer during shopping. Health promotion might benefit from our findings by also focusing on food purchases and not only food intake.