The structure and predictive ability of social representation of new foods were investigated and compared with instruments measuring relevant attitudes and traits using a questionnaire quantifying these aspects, completed by 743 respondents. Based on their rated willingness to try, new foods were categorized as modified dairy products, genetically modified (GM), organic, and ethnic products (two examples, snails and passion fruit, were treated separately). The social representation (SR) consisted of five dimensions: suspicion of novelties, adherence to technology, adherence to natural food, eating as an enjoyment, and eating as a necessity. The SR dimensions were strong predictors of willingness to try GM foods (predicted by adherence to technology) and organic foods (predicted by adherence to natural foods). Low food neophobia predicted the rated willingness to try snails and passion fruit. Thus, different constructs predicted willingness to try different categories of new foods, and as a whole, SR dimensions markedly improved the prediction. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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