Friday, January 14, 2022

Meet Meat Eaters with Distinctive Alternatives

How appropriate that the site for a group of studies about meat consumption was University at Buffalo. The research question was whether presenting pigs and cows as sharing characteristics with people would affect interest in eating pork and beef. The answer was that it did.
     In reply to my email inquiry to Prof. Sunyee Yoon, one of the researchers, she wrote, “Participants tended to choose healthier meat rather than tastier meat after seeing anthropomorphized animals.” The anthropomorphism aroused feelings of warmth toward the animals, and expecting to eat a healthy rather than tasty meat dish reduced the consequent guilt for those people who chose to eat meat.
     Among the anthropomorphism messages were posters showing an illustration of a pig with humanlike eyes, a speech bubble reading, “I am ME, not MEAT! I am not different from you,” and text below stating, “See the person inside.” Study participants in a non-anthropomorphism group instead saw a poster with the slogan, “This is PIG, not MEAT,” and the caption, “See the living animal.”.
     People may be committed to meat consumption because they perceive it as enhancing health. Or it could be because they perceive meat consumption as power. A team of researchers from France and Australia told study participants they'd be given either a beef sausage roll or a vegetarian roll to eat. But those tricky researchers had lied to half the participants, who actually were served the other entrĂ©e from the one they were promised.
     A group of those participants granted a high rating to what they ate, regardless of which they actually ate, as long as they thought it was meat. Unlike the veggie fans, these meat elitists showed up on psychological testing as embracing power and strength.
     Vegetarian rolls are healthier than beef sausages. Another perspective on persuading people to eat healthier alternatives is a study done at…wait for it… University of Vienna. As in Vienna sausage. I love it!
     However, the study, including researchers from University of Bath and University of Cologne in addition to University of Vienna, found the participants did not love it. As in the healthier alternative. People focus on the differences between the healthier and less-healthy alternative and then find the differences to be undesirable. The researchers recommend discouraging similarity comparisons. Market a healthier burger, for instance, as providing a completely new taste, even better than the taste of a beef hamburger.

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