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Testing potential psychological predictors of attitudes towards cultured meat

Wilks, Matti, Phillips, Clive J.C., Fielding, Kelly, Hornsey, Matthew J.
Appetite 2019 v.136 pp. 137-145
consumer acceptance, consumer attitudes, cultured meat, eating disorders, ethics, farming systems, food technology, hygiene, models, politics, scientists, social dominance
Cultured meat is an emerging food technology that has the potential to resolve many of the social, environmental and ethical issues surrounding traditional factory farming practices. Recently, research has begun to explore consumer attitudes to the product, revealing a number of barriers and demographic predictors. However, our understanding of the psychological mechanisms that underpin attitudes to cultured meat remains limited. In the current study, we draw on an attitude roots model (Hornsey & Fielding, 2017) to explore a range of psychological mechanisms that may underpin attitudes to cultured meat. In terms of negative attitudes and intentions toward cultured meat, the most powerful predictors were food neophobia, political conservatism, and distrust of food scientists. When it comes to absolute opposition to cultured meat - defined by the unconditional belief that it should never be allowed under any circumstances - the strongest predictors were food and hygiene disgust sensitivity subscales, food neophobia, and conspiratorial ideation. A number of presumed mechanisms held no relationships to cultured meat attitudes, including social dominance orientation, speciesism, and naturalness bias. The null results on naturalness bias are of particular interest given recent research identifying concerns about naturalness as a key barrier to consumer acceptance. These results demonstrate the need for a more nuanced understanding of the psychological mechanisms that contribute to cultured meat attitudes and engagement.