Human Food Neophobia: Characterizing the Dimension Individuals differ dramatically in their responses to novel foods. Some seek out opportunities to try new foods, while others consistently avoid them. The tendency to avoid new foods is referred to as food neophobia. This variation in response to new foods is not surprising, since new foods put omnivores ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2003
Human Food Neophobia: Characterizing the Dimension
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Robert A. Frank
    University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  • Bryan Raudenbush
    Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, WV
  • Robert A. Frank is associate vice president for research and associate university dean for Advanced Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He is also professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati (frankra@ ucmail.uc.edu). Bryan Raudenbush is assistant professor of psychology and director of Undergraduate Research at Wheeling Jesuit University. He is a research fellow of the Appalachian College Association (raudenbc@wju.edu).
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2003
Human Food Neophobia: Characterizing the Dimension
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), December 2003, Vol. 12, 20-27. doi:10.1044/sasd12.4.20
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), December 2003, Vol. 12, 20-27. doi:10.1044/sasd12.4.20
Individuals differ dramatically in their responses to novel foods. Some seek out opportunities to try new foods, while others consistently avoid them. The tendency to avoid new foods is referred to as food neophobia. This variation in response to new foods is not surprising, since new foods put omnivores (such as humans) in an approach-avoidance conflict called the omnivore’s dilemma. On the one hand, a food under consideration may prove to be an important source of nutrients that should be exploited. On the other, consumption of toxic components in a substance may result in serious illness or death.
Pliner and Hobden (1992)  published the first psychometric instrument designed to measure individual differences in food neopho-bia, the Food Neophobia Scale (FNS, Table 1). People complete the FNS by indicating their degree of agreement/disagreement with 10 statements about foods or eating situations. Each statement is rated on a 7-point scale, so FNS scores can range from 10 to 70. The good internal reliability of the FNS has been verified in multiple laboratories using responses of diverse groups of people (Cronbach’s is typically in the 0.8–0.9 range; Frank, Reilley, Schroth, Werk, & Wehner, 1997; Hursti & Sjödén, 1997; Pliner & Hobden, 1992; Tuorila, Meiselman, Bell, Cardello, & Johnson, 1994). Test-retest reliability is excellent when the time between tests is a few weeks (Pearson r correlations in the 0.8–0.9 range, Pliner & Hobden, 1992), but declines somewhat into the 0.49 to 0.63 range when the interval is extended over several months (Meiselman, Mastroianni, Buller, & Edwards, 1999). Recent work by Ritchey, Frank, Hursti, and Tuorila (2003)  using confirmatory factor analysis indicates that several of the items on the FNS may not provide useful information about neophobia but that overall, the FNS provides a good measure of food neophobia.
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