The Role of Outcome and Experience in Hypothesis Testing about Food Allergy

Steve Croker, Rebecca C Knibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is important to understand the reasoning strategies that health behaviours are based
on. Croker and Buchanan (2011b) found that the strategies people use when choosing how to
test a hypothesis about oral health are affected by whether the participant is seeking to
reproduce a positive outcome (i.e., good health) or eliminate an unwanted outcome (i.e., bad
health). The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of outcome on reasoning strategies
in a food allergy context. Participants with and without food allergy were given hypothesistesting
tasks and asked to choose which of three alternative patterns of food consumption
could be used to test a hypothesis that a person is allergic to a particular food. Participants
were more likely to select a controlled test of the hypothesis that a specific food causes an
allergic reaction when a reaction to a food had been observed after eating, than when a
reaction had not been observed due to food avoidance. Although the potential severity of
making an incorrect choice in a food allergy context is both greater and more proximal than
in an oral health context, the same bias in reasoning strategy was found. Logically
appropriate hypothesis-testing behaviour may not, therefore, underpin real-world decision
making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
JournalHealth Psychology Update
Volume25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

The role of outcome and experience in hypothesis testing about food
allergy. Steve Croker & Rebecca C. Knibb. Health Psychology Update. VOl 25 Iss 1. Spring 2016.

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