Pauer, S., Rutjens, B. T., Ruby, M. B., Perino, G., & van Harreveld, F. (2022). Meating Conflict: Toward a Model of Ambivalence-Motivated Reduction of Meat Consumption. Foods, 11(7), 921. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11070921
An increasing number of people are concerned about eating meat, despite enjoying doing so. In the present research, we examined whether the desire to resolve this ambivalence about eating meat leads to a reduction in meat consumption. Our model of ambivalence-motivated meat reduction proposes that the pervasive nature of evaluative conflict motivates meat avoidance, and we highlight two potential mechanisms involved: the anticipation of ambivalence reduction through behavioral change, and information seeking for contents that facilitate meat reduction. Study 1 drew on a cross-sectional 6-day food diary with 7485 observations in a quota sample to investigate why meat-related ambivalence arises and to demonstrate the correlation of ambivalence with meat reduction. Two experiments investigated the causal direction of this association by showing that ambivalence-induced discomfort motivated participants to eat less meat when they introspected on their preexisting incongruent evaluations (Study 2 and 3), which was mediated by the aforementioned mechanisms involved (Study 3; preregistered). The studies utilized diverse samples from Germany, England, and the US (total N = 1192) and support the proposed model by indicating that behavioral change is an important coping strategy to resolve ambivalent discomfort in the context of meat consumption. Our model of ambivalence-motivated meat reduction contributes to theorizing on the consequences of ambivalence and the psychology of (not) eating meat.