The Role of the Passive Voice Mindset in Regulating Healthy Eating

  •  Ibrahim Senay    
  •  Muhammet Usak    
  •  Zeynep Ceren Acarturk    


Talking about eating in the passive, as opposed to the active voice, (e.g., The cake will be eaten vs. I will eat the cake) can lead people to see the act of eating to be triggered by the food to a greater extent, leading to the continuation of past eating habits. Depending on whether or not the past habits are healthy, the motivation for healthy eating may change as a result. In study 1, writing passive sentences increased the motivation for healthy eating to the extent that people reported eating healthy in the past. Moreover, in study 2 across 127 languages spoken in 94 countries, when the acted-upons of actions (e.g., the food in the act of eating) became relatively more salient in a language, people became more likely to act on cultural habits that may be relatively healthier, decreasing unhealthy eating. The results are important for understanding the perceived role of food in starting eating as it impacts healthy eating across cultures.

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