The association between the moral foundations theory, ethical concern and fast food consumption

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Health knowledge alone does not appear to lead to sustained healthy behavior, suggesting the need for alternative methods for improving diet. Recent research shows a possible role of moral contexts

Health knowledge alone does not appear to lead to sustained healthy behavior, suggesting the need for alternative methods for improving diet. Recent research shows a possible role of moral contexts of food production on diet related behaviors; however no studies have been conducted to specifically explore the relationship between moral constructs and food consumption. This study examined the relationship between fast food consumption and two measures of morality, Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ), specifically harm/care and purity/sanctity foundations, and the Ethical Concern in food choice (EC) questionnaire, which includes animal welfare, environment protection, political values, and religion subscales. The study also examined the association between the measures of morality. 739 participants, primarily female (71.4%) and non-Hispanic Whites (76.5%), completed an online survey that included the MFQ, the EC questionnaire, and a brief fast food screener. Participant's morality scores in relation to their fast food consumption were examined first using bivariate ANOVA analysis and then using logistic regression to control for covariates. The MFQ foundations were compared with the EC subscales using Pearson correlation coefficient. Significant bivariate relationships were seen between fast food consumption and the MFQ's purity/sanctity foundation and EC's religion subscales (p<0.05). However these significant bivariate relationships did not hold after controlling for gender, race, university education, and religion in the logistic regression analysis. The foundations of the MFQ were positively correlated with the subscales for the EC questionnaire (r values ranging from .233-.613 (p<0.01). MFQ's purity/sanctity foundation and EC's religion subscale were the two most highly correlated (r=.613, p<0.01) showing that moral intuitions may be associated with eating decision making. The study did not find significant associations between MFQ or EC scores and fast food consumption.