Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Everyday Beliefs About Food Refuse To Give Way To Scientific Evidence

Date:
August 22, 2006
Source:
University of Helsinki
Summary:
Marieke Saher's recent doctoral dissertation for the Department of Psychology at the University of Helsinki analyses everyday beliefs about food and health. By these beliefs she refers to people's ideas about whether certain foods are healthy, what might have caused a stomach upset or whether a medicine really works. "People can sometimes be so convinced of their ideas that it is impossible to disprove them even if rational expert evidence exists to do so," says Saher.

Marieke Saher’s recent doctoral dissertation for the Department of Psychology at the University of Helsinki analyses everyday beliefs about food and health. By these beliefs she refers to people’s ideas about whether certain foods are healthy, what might have caused a stomach upset, or whether a medicine really works. “People can sometimes be so convinced of their ideas that it is impossible to disprove them even if rational expert evidence exists to do so,” says Saher.

According to Saher, in most cases people’s everyday thinking and beliefs are in line with expert views, but sometimes they lead to an opposite conclusion from what scientific evidence would suggest. Such beliefs can seldom be shaken by rational arguments. It has been suggested that some of these beliefs come close to superstition. Saher’s surveys focused on four everyday beliefs: the concept that “you are what you eat”, attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) and organic food, and belief in alternative medicine.

The first survey revealed that people draw conclusions about each other solely based on dietary habits: those who ate healthily were considered to be more disciplined in general but were also presumed to be less likable. The survey did not, however, establish whether this phenomenon was based on a superstition whereby food is believed to somehow taint the personality, or on normal everyday ideas.

Saher detected a weak correlation between attitudes towards organic and GM food and superstition, in that those who were prone to superstition were more negative towards GM food and more positive towards organic food than respondents on average. Strong correlations were detected between superstition and belief in alternative medicine – the more a respondent believed in alternative medicine the more likely he or she was to also believe in paranormal phenomena such as astrology, telepathy or palm reading.

Belief in alternative medicine and paranormal phenomena was also linked to a willingness to disregard the boundaries between biology, physics and psychology, and to apply the concepts of one discipline to another. A person who thinks in this manner might, for example, describe the physical concept of energy as a living entity, as if it belonged to the sphere of biology, or through the concept of evil, a psychological attribute. According to Saher, such thinking does not necessarily indicate that a person is poorly educated, because rational knowledge is not linked to these beliefs in any way. Some respondents simultaneously held conflicting superstitious and rational notions about certain phenomena, without the rational thoughts exercising any overriding effect on the superstitious elements. This might go some way towards explaining why certain everyday beliefs are so hard to overthrow with any rational argument.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Helsinki. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Helsinki. "Everyday Beliefs About Food Refuse To Give Way To Scientific Evidence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060822102824.htm>.
University of Helsinki. (2006, August 22). Everyday Beliefs About Food Refuse To Give Way To Scientific Evidence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060822102824.htm
University of Helsinki. "Everyday Beliefs About Food Refuse To Give Way To Scientific Evidence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060822102824.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins