Thematic Area 5: Personality factors

TA 5: Individual and contextual factors as determinants of food choices – from personality to interventions

What determines (a persons) food choice?

Scientists want to answer this question, by examining the influence of individual and contextual factors of food choice. This knowledge will be applied in intervention studies conducted in a non-clinical setting. They are conducted in collaboration with TA1 and 2.

Individual factors related to food choices

The scientist are investigating the relationship between cognitive and non-cognitive skills, food choices, and health-related outcomes. This will be implemented in the the Rhineland study and the DONALD study. And enables continuous and longitudinal assessment. In both cohorts scientist investigate inter/individual heterogeneity for personality, econolical ( non-cognitive) preferences, and cognitive abilitz.
These characteristics will be associated with dietary patterns, health status and nutrition in infancy. The goal is to better understand the influence of nutritional factors in infancy on cognitive and non-cognitive abilities and the association between these abilities and dietary patterns or other relevant parameters as weight and bodyfatness. Ashort version of the Big5-inventory and an economic preference module taken from an experimentally validated preferences module generated in Bonn (Falk et al. 2012) in the routine protocol of the Rhineland study.
They will assess subjects and will run analyses to determine the relation between these factors and other data collected in this cohort, i.e., food intake patterns and health-related outcomes such as BMI and body composition. We will implement measures of cognitive ability that are in line with the European FP7 Nutrimenthe Initiative (, personality measures for children, and experiments to determine risk and time preferences in the routine protocol of the DONALD study.
The aim is to understand the influence of food factors infant on cognitive and non-cognitive achievements and the connection between these abilities and food patterns or health markers relevant for food like weight and body fat portion better.

The effect of contextual factors on food choices

The scientists investigate with the use of functional magnet resonance tomography (MRI) and Eye-Tracking the impact of contextual factors on food perception. Aim is to understand better which processes take place with the food choice. Additionally they examine how information and design of packaging of foods influence decision making and the fundamentals of neuro-physiological They examine how for example marketing claims on packages (e.g., “healthy,” “light”) change the perception, the assessment and taste of foods.

Besides, the scientists examine how the presentation of nutritional information on packages (e.g., numerical vs. colored) influences the perception and assessment of food items. Functional MRI will be used to disentangle perception of flavor pleasantness and flavor intensity, which are often confused in self-report. We will relate these data to personality and cognitive skills as well as to BMI and vegetative states (hungry, satiated).

Using nudges to influence food choices

Based on knowledge of behavioral- and neuro-economy the scientists want to test the effectiveness of the so-called behaviour "nudges" ("Stuppser") for the food choice in real life situations (intervention studies). Nudges can change consumer decisions by making small changes in the context of decision making. The scientists will conduct an intervention study in which they investigate the influence of separating food choices from food intake based by disconnecting the impulses that occur at the point of choice from the choice itself.

Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber (coordination)
Center for Economics and Neuroscience
(Dept. of Epileptology)
University of Bonn

Sigmund-Freud Str. 25
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 6885 262
Fax +49 228 6885 261

Xenia Grote
Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENS)
University of Bonn

Nachtigallenweg 86
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 73-8294
Fax +49 228 73-8299

Ilinca Serbanescu
Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENS)
University of Bonn

Nachtigallenweg 86
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 73-8297
Fax +49 228 73-8299

Prof. Dr. Ute Nöthlings
Institute of Nutritional and Food Sciences
Nutritional Epidemiology
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Bonn

Endenicher Allee 19b
D-53115 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 73 60490
Fax +49 228 73 60493

Prof. Dr. Dr. Monique Breteler
Population and Health Sciences
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

Sigmund-Freud-Str. 27
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 43302 929



L&B - Life and Brain Center
Biomedical & Neuroscientific Technology-Plattform

Sigmund-Freud-Strasse 25
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 6885 262

“Healthy Campus Initiative”
Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Predel
Institute of Cardiology and Sports Medicine,
German Sports University Cologne
Dr. Manuela Preuß
University of Bonn

Am Sportpart Müngersdorf 6
D-50933 Köln