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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Some variables affecting belief in a pro-food additive message Campbell, Shelagh Ann


Several surveys document the misinformation that exists among consumers about the use and safety of food additives. It is in the interests of a well-informed consumer that food scientists attempt to explain controversial food issues in an understandable manner. The objective is for consumers to have the information available in order to make informed choices in the marketplace. Questions have been raised as to the acceptance of information designed to counteract the misinformation. The problem is that much of this counter-misinformation is directly opposite to the current negative societal stereotype about food additives. This research examined the role of the traditional attitude change variable source credibility, as well as receiver attitude towards food additives, as factors influencing belief in a pro-food additive message. An attribute - treatment - interaction (ATI) model was used for the design of the study and results evaluated by linear multiple regression analysis. A questionnaire consisting of a measure of attitude; a measure of belief in food additive statements; a pro-food additive message and a measure of belief in the message was developed. The message was attributed to one of three sources that had been previously rated as credible regarding information about food additives. For the control, the message was attributed to no particular source. Results indicated that none of the sources were able to produce strong belief in the pro-food additive message. The attitude; the belief in statements and the sources accounted for 49.23 % of the variance in belief in the message. An interaction effect between source and attitude was found to be statistically significant. Based on this limited study, it appeared that, for the population tested, the nutritionist had the same effect on belief in the message, regardless of the attitude of the receiver of the message. For receivers who held anti-food additive attitudes, the nutritionist was most effective at influencing belief in the message.

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