Article

The influence of mortality reminders on cultural in-group versus out-group takeaway food safety perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Citation

McCabe S & Erdem S (2021) The influence of mortality reminders on cultural in-group versus out-group takeaway food safety perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 51 (4), pp. 363-369. https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12740

Abstract
During the early stages of the COVID‐19 pandemic takeaway food orders generally increased, yet sales of Chinese and Italian food declined. At this time, news sources ran stories on the safety of cuisine from these countries, frequently juxtaposed with communications on mortality‐related information related to the virus. Terror management theory suggests mortality concerns can lead people to defend against the psychological threat of death by bolstering positive evaluations of products and values of their own culture, and by disparaging products and values of other cultures. This translates to food preferences, with death reminders heightening consumption of food from one's own (vs. others’) culture. However, whether this extends to food safety perceptions has not yet been probed. In the present experimental study, we examine whether death reminders (vs. a control topic) led U.S. participants to view American takeaway food as safer to consume, relative to Chinese and Italian food. Results indicate that across conditions, American food was evaluated as safer relative to Chinese and Italian takeout. Further, American takeaway was seen as safer after mortality reminders (vs. a control topic), with no differences in safety evaluations for Chinese or Italian takeout. Results are discussed in relation to the COVID‐19 pandemic.

Keywords
Social Psychology

Journal
Journal of Applied Social Psychology: Volume 51, Issue 4

StatusPublished
Publication date30/04/2021
Publication date online26/01/2021
Date accepted by journal04/01/2021
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/32212
PublisherWiley
ISSN0021-9029
eISSN1559-1816

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