The Role of Outcome and Experience in Hypothesis Testing about Food Allergy

Steve Croker, Rebecca C Knibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is important to understand the reasoning strategies that health behaviours are based
on. Croker and Buchanan (2011b) found that the strategies people use when choosing how to
test a hypothesis about oral health are affected by whether the participant is seeking to
reproduce a positive outcome (i.e., good health) or eliminate an unwanted outcome (i.e., bad
health). The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of outcome on reasoning strategies
in a food allergy context. Participants with and without food allergy were given hypothesistesting
tasks and asked to choose which of three alternative patterns of food consumption
could be used to test a hypothesis that a person is allergic to a particular food. Participants
were more likely to select a controlled test of the hypothesis that a specific food causes an
allergic reaction when a reaction to a food had been observed after eating, than when a
reaction had not been observed due to food avoidance. Although the potential severity of
making an incorrect choice in a food allergy context is both greater and more proximal than
in an oral health context, the same bias in reasoning strategy was found. Logically
appropriate hypothesis-testing behaviour may not, therefore, underpin real-world decision
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
JournalHealth Psychology Update
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

The role of outcome and experience in hypothesis testing about food
allergy. Steve Croker & Rebecca C. Knibb. Health Psychology Update. VOl 25 Iss 1. Spring 2016.


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