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Objectives: This study experimentally assessed food preference as one potentially important racial identity cue particularly for Black Americans, which in turn impacts interpersonal relations both between ethnicities/races (i.e., inter-group) and within ethnicity/race (i.e., intra-group). We hypothesized that preference for “Soul Food,” which is historically significant to Black Americans, as opposed to “Fresh Salad,” would be associated with stronger racial identity and induce more positive reactions among Black participants but more negative reactions among White participants.

Methods: Undergraduate students (N = 365) viewed one of four online profiles that were ostensibly completed by a Black Student. Student gender (i.e., DeShawn vs. LaKeisha) and student food preference (Soul food vs. fresh salad) were manipulated experimentally within the online profiles.

Results: Consistent with the prediction, preference for “Soul Food” was associated with stronger perceived racial identity, regardless of participant race. Additionally, Black participants responded more positively when “Soul Food” was preferred. In contrast, there was no evidence that White participants reacted differently to the Black students based on food preference.

Conclusions: Food preference serves as one indicator of racial identity among Black Americans. Further implications are discussed.

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Health Psychology | Psychology

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VCU Graduate Research Posters

Food Choice as a Signal of Racial Identity