Organic food eaters less likely to help others

Unkind cut
Last Updated 19 February 2013, 03:27 IST

Organic foods may make you less likely to show kindness to others, a new study has revealed.

Using organic products makes people feel more secure about themselves, which reduces their desire to be altruistic, assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University Dr Kendall Eskine said.

“Organic foods, like other green products, seem to help people affirm their moral identities, thus generating counterintuitive behaviours,” Eskine said.
Eskine’s research is the first to demonstrate that exposure to organic foods can influence moral thinking and doing.

The study used 62 students in three groups. One was given pictures of organic produce, another images of ice cream, cookies, chocolate and brownies, and a control group pictures of porridge, rice, mustard and beans.

They were then all asked their views on six moral transgressions ranging from a politician taking bribes to a student stealing books from a library.

When they thought the study had finished, the students were told that a professor in another department was looking for volunteers willing to spare 30 minutes without any reward.

The students who were exposed to organic fruit and vegetables agreed to spare an average 13 minutes to help the professor.

The study found that people who were exposed to organic food were willing to set aside an average 13 minutes to help others compared with 25 minutes from those who viewed comfort food such as chocolate.

However, the students who saw the comfort food were happy to set aside 25 minutes compared with 20 minutes from those in the third group, which looked at oatmeal and rice.

Dr Kendall Eskine and colleagues, who wrote the paper ‘Wholesome Foods and Wholesome Morals?’ in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, said that people were more willing to help after eating something sweet. “In particular, the organic food industry has significant implications for health, culture and psychology, and in many cases, foods can act as containers of meaning that transcend their physical properties,” he said.

(Published 18 February 2013, 17:22 IST)

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