Filthy fruit! Confirmation bias and novel food

Pauline Dibbets*, Lois Borger, Chantal Nederkoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Fruit and vegetable consumption is worldwide too low, resulting in poor diet quality and health-related problems. A cognitive factor that might contribute to this low consumption is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias has been established in anxiety research and comprises the tendency to search for reinforcing negative information, while ignoring counter attitudinal information. If applicable to food, asking for negative food information reinforces the negative attitude and decreases the willingness to try (novel) food. The aim of the current study was twofold. First, to examine if confirmation bias translates to food stimuli. Second, to investigate if this bias is exaggerated in persons with higher levels of food neophobia. To this end, 117 participants (age M = 21.45, SD = 4.48) carried out an online study. They filled in the food neophobia scale (FNS) and performed a search for additional information scale (SAIS) task. Four novel fruits were used, two looking tasteful (pomelo and rose apple) and two looking non-tasteful (black sapote and noni fruit). Participants rated their willingness to eat these fruits and subsequently could indicate how eager they were to receive positive or negative information regarding that fruit. The results indicated that the participants were more willing to try the tasteful looking fruits than the non-tasteful. Additionally, higher levels of food neophobia coincided with less willingness to eat all fruits. Confirmation bias was observed, more negative information was requested for the non-tasteful than for the tasteful fruits. This bias was not related to levels of food neophobia. These results are important as confirmation bias might make people even more negative towards novel foods and could contribute to even less fruit and vegetable consumption, especially when they look less appetizing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105607
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Anxiety
  • Confirmation bias
  • FEAR
  • Food neophobia
  • Information processing
  • Novelty

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