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The peak of health: the vertical representation of healthy food

Wang, Feiyang and Basso, Frédéric ORCID: 0000-0003-3709-8331 (2021) The peak of health: the vertical representation of healthy food. Appetite, 167. ISSN 0195-6663

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105587


As expressed by the “Healthy is Up” metaphor, conceptual metaphor theory argues that the representation of health is commonly associated with high verticality because, typically, people stay upright when they are healthy whereas illness may force them to lie down. Along this line of argument, this research is the first to empirically explore the metaphorical representation of healthy food in terms of verticality. Across five experiments (N = 714), this article first demonstrates that people are faster to pair healthy food with up than down in an implicit association test (Study 1, supporting a metaphorical congruency effect). Then, it shows that people associate healthy food with high verticality and unhealthy food with low verticality by placing healthy food up high and unhealthy food low down along the vertical axis, and by preferring a food pyramid that depicts healthy food at the top rather than at the bottom (Studies 2a, 2b and 3, supporting an abstract-to-concrete effect). Last, this research finds that people judge a food product as healthier when it is pictured from an upward-looking angle than when it is pictured from a downward-looking angle (Study 4, supporting a concrete-to-abstract effect). Further analyses test the interaction between individual differences in self-control and the effects of the “Healthy is Up” metaphor in Studies 2a, 2b, 3 and 4. The article concludes with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of this research.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2021 10:00
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 04:14

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