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

In the 1st period, an assessment of personality traits in subjects from the DONALD and Rhineland studies were initiated to investigate their association with dietary patterns and health outcomes. In the DONALD cohort, ~160 children have now been assessed using measures of impulsivity, risk-taking behavior, and social preferences. Initial analyses on associations between personality factors and nutritional decisions have been performed. In the Rhineland Study, a WP5.1 questionnaire module on personality and risk preferences has been created and integrated into the core study protocol. Initial analyses in the current sample of about 600 individuals on personality-BMI-relationships are in progress.

The effect of contextual factors on food choices

In the 1st period, the focus lied on contextual factors with a potential influence on the valuation, perception, and consumption of foods. In a series of experiments specific cues (e.g., packaging design, nutritional information, and food labels) influence food valuation and decision-making processes were investigated. It was demonstrated that food valuation and choice are strongly dependent on how food items are presented at the time of their selection. This has been investigated in behavioral and functional MRI experiments and lately using eye-tracking. Together, these studies suggest that attention is a key driver of this contextual influence. A plausible hypothesis is that attention impacts the weighting of opposing attributes (e.g., taste versus nutritional value) in choice. In the next step the analysis should be stratified (e.g. weight, socioeconomic status, education). Furthermore the food application and –awareness should be investigated by using a MRI scanner.

Research question and objectives

O5.1 To examine the association between non-cognitive skills and dietary choices

O5.2 To evaluate contextual influencing factors for perception, processing and food decisions

O5.3 To examine and evaluate the efficiency of communication with regard to memory and intention to behavioral change

Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber
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

Dr. Florian Schiller
Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENS)
University of Bonn

Nachtigallenweg 86
D-53127 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 73-8280
Fax +49 228 73-8299

Dr. Angela Bechthold
Department of Professional Media/
Coordination of Branch Offices
German Nutrition Society

Godesberger Allee 18
D-53175 Bonn
Ph. +49 228 3776 621
Fax +49 228 3776 78621

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



“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

Participating partners from other clusters:

Prof. Jutta Roosen, PhD (enable), TU Munich; Jun.-Prof. Jessica Freiherr, PhD (enable), Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Prof. Kathrin Ohla, PhD (NutriAct), German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam; Prof. Burkhard Pleger, PhD (nutriCARD), Max-Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Leipzig

International/National Collaborators:

Prof. Hilke Plassmann, PhD, Dept. of Marketing, INSEAD Business School, Fontainebleau, France; Prof. Brian Knutson, PhD, Dept. of Psychology and Neuroscience, Stanford University, USA; Prof. Nynke van der Laan, PhD, Dept. of Nutritional Neuroscience, University of Utrecht, NL; Prof. SoYoung Park, PhD, Dept. of Psychology, University of Lübeck, Germany