“Sticking it to the man: Harnessing adolescent values to motivate healthier dietary choices,” Christopher J. Bryan, University of Chicago

Event time: 
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS077 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: Adolescents are exposed to an enormous volume of marketing for junk food. This creates automatic positive emotional associations with junk food and drives overconsumption. We counter this influence with an intervention that frames healthy eating as aligned with adolescent values of autonomy (i.e., rebelling against adult authority) and social justice. Across two randomized, controlled field experiments, we find that this intervention changes adolescents’ construal of the meaning of healthy eating and produces lasting changes in their implicit positive associations with junk food and their dietary choices at school. Each of these findings, on its own, represents a breakthrough that investigators have been aggressively pursuing for many years. Together, they offer hope of accomplishing what has proved a frustratingly elusive goal in behavioral health: a scalable intervention that produces enduring improvements in adolescents’ dietary preferences.

Christopher Bryan is an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He studies psychological influence, behavioral decision-making, and political psychology with a focus on psychology as it relates to social and public policy. Most of his work examines how seemingly incidental differences in the way an issue or behavior is framed can influence people’s attitudes and behavior in ways that benefit them, their communities and the larger society. A major theoretical theme of Bryan’s work is the role of the self in influencing attitudes and behavior. His past and ongoing work spans a wide range of social and policy topics, including voter turnout, financial decision-making, health behavior, charitable giving, international development, traffic safety, honesty and deception, and parenting. Bryan earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University and a B.A. in psychology from McGill University. Prior to joining Booth, Bryan was an assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of California, San Diego.

The Behavioral Sciences Workshop is an interdisciplinary seminar series featuring speakers of broad appeal in the behavioral sciences. The workshop is held jointly between the Yale departments of Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and the School of Management (SOM). The workshop is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of American Politics (CSAP) and the School of Management’s International Center for Finance and Whitebox Advisors fund. Lunch will be served.

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