The incidental influence of memories of past eating occasions on consumers' emotional responses to food and food-related behaviors

Betina Piqueras-Fiszman*, Sara R. Jaeger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Our memories of past eating experiences are influential in shaping food preferences and consumption behavior, and the emotions that people associate to these memories are linked to their attitudes toward foods and their everyday food-related behaviors. This work studies the impact that food-related memories have on peoples' emotional state and how this state is projected in a subsequent evaluation of images pertaining to food and food-related behaviors. Focus is placed on guilt and shame emotions. Through an online survey, three memories were investigated (a positive meal, a routine evening meal, and an overeating occasion) among UK consumers (N = 710). Participants primed with the overeating memory evaluated images related to junk food as conveying more feelings of guilt and shame than did participants primed with the memory of a positive meal. Moreover, this effect was moderated by participants' dietary restraint status. Participants classified as having a high dietary restraint had stronger associations with the emotions guilt and shame than participants classified as low in dietary restraint. In contrast, a memory of a positive meal did not lead to positive valuations of any of the food-related images shown. Overall, the findings from the present study illustrate the partial impact that personal food memories have on consumers' emotional response toward food-related issues, which in turn has the potential to affect future behavior. This study therefore contributes to the literature about cognitive effects on food attitudes and behavior. Furthermore, the results suggest that the empirical approach may be tapping into possibly unconscious emotions toward foods and food-related behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number943
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Affect infusion
  • Consumer research
  • Emotions
  • Food
  • Memory priming
  • Overeating
  • Recalled meals

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