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 April 18, 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 April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
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