Photo: Flickr via roebot
Here’s another reason to think twice about embracing the organic food craze: It might turn you into a self-righteous jerk. That’s the claim researchers make in a new study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal.
Psychologist Kendall Eskine argues that consumers tend to feel especially good about themselves for making healthy choices, which makes them more likely to ‘reward’ themselves with bad behaviour.
He put about 60 college students to the test, splitting them into three different groups and showing them a range of photos – one group saw organic produce, the second group was shown junk food, and the third saw neutral foods like oatmeal.
Afterward, all the students listened to a bunch of descriptions of people behaving badly (stealing library books, second cousins sleeping together, etc.) and were asked to judge them on a scale of one to seven. Organic people were the most judgmental of the groups, with scores averaging 5.5 over the other groups’ 5.
And when the subjects were asked to volunteer time to participate in another study, the organic fans were far less generous, offering an average of 13 minutes. The students who saw junk food images offered twice as much as time.
Per Pacific Standard’s Tom Jacobs, Eskine notes the study “suggests that exposure to organic foods helps people affirm their moral identities, and attenuates their desire to be altruistic.”
In layman’s terms, it’s the opposite of rewarding yourself for good behaviour with an ice cream sundae. Organic fans feel highly enough about their healthy habits that they reward themselves with bad behaviour.
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