Article Analysis Essay on Forces Behind Food Habits and Methods of Change

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The article I selected from the SPARQ website is entitled To Make Change, Start With A Crowd that summarizes the research article on the topic Forces behind food habits and methods of change (Lewin, 1943). Kurt Lewin’s study was inspired by the shortage of meat that hit the United States during the Second World War. Meat shipments to soldiers in the frontier during the Second World War led to a shortage of meat in the United States. Concerns were raised over nutrition in the wake of reduced protein intake following the shortage of meat. The government was looking for ways to get people to use organ meats to supplement their dietary needs. Lewin, using an experimental design carried out research to change the negative perceptions towards organ meats. Using 85 Midwestern housewives, Lewin randomly assigned them one of two conditions; lecture or group discussion. In the lecture, housewives were lectured by a nutritionist about the benefits of organ meats and given recipes to try at home. On the other hand, in the group discussion, the housewives were not only taught and given recipes but took part in a wholesome discussion on how to break the bad food habits of Americans. After a week, interviews with the housewives showed more who took part in the group discussion actually went on to serve organ meats.

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The research rationale the researchers used in the study was appropriate for the research. The appropriateness of the research design stems from the basis of the study. Lewin found out that women were influential in influencing the dietary habits in households. To begin with, Lewin identified the channels through which food got to the table in families. Mainly a specific person controls the channels. Lewin called this person the gatekeeper. In the period the research was carried out, the gatekeeper was usually a housewife. The women and not their husbands or children were influential in determining the contents of the family’s diet. By understanding the psychology of the women and influencing their thoughts, the researchers were able to have an impact on the dietary contents of several families.

Factors That Influence Food Habits and Choices

The researchers’ understanding of how the food habits of the gatekeepers are influenced by psychology enabled them to influence their behavior by involving them in decision making as in the group discussion.

Behavior change was achieved by making the participants make their own decisions through voluntary commitment and open discussion. This method is appealing since the participants feel they have a choice in the matter and it is not being forced down their throats. The democratic process of discussion is a major influence in behavior change and was the reason the study design was suitable and successful.

The group decision method is a useful technique for influencing behavior, arriving at solutions, and generally obtaining ideas from different people (Black, 1948). As much as more ideas can be generated from a group discussion, it has a significant limitation based on the different personalities that can be found in any group (Kock, 1998). The different personalities exhibited in a group can have negative impacts on the outcomes of the discussion. Some people are dominant or aggressive and may suppress the opinions of others. Other individuals are laid back and may refrain from providing their input. This produces inefficiency in the whole setup of group discussion. In addition, prejudice may exist between different individuals leading to skewed or biased opinions. Groups may also fail to agree and arrive at suitable outcomes.

Ethical Considerations of Research

When dealing with human subjects in research, it is important to make ethical considerations to avoid infringing on human rights. To begin with, participants have the right to informed consent. They should know the processes to be carried out, the risks involved and have the right to accept or refuse participation (Behi & Nolan, 1994). In addition, the participants have the right to privacy. Their identities should be kept hidden and their real names should not be used (Behi & Nolan, 1994). The participants' information should also be kept confidential and the experimenter should have the experimenter’s responsibility (Behi & Nolan, 1994). Experimenter responsibility needs the researcher, to be as honest as possible and if the participants’ behavior was manipulated, to debrief them after the experiment.


The research by Lewin was unethical to an extent. To begin with, the participants’ behavior was under observation without their knowledge. The basis of the experiment was to possibly manipulate behavior using psychological methods and observe the impact of these methods. The participants should have been at least debriefed following their participation. No information is available about the debriefing or follow-up for the experiment. However, the experiment led to behavior change. The participants were manipulated in the experiment. They should have been briefed or debriefed. However, one possible limitation of briefing the subjects of the whole scope of the research was possible manipulation of the research due to prior knowledge of the desired outcomes. The change in diet may have been a difficult experience for many subjects and their families. The experiment had an associated impact that extended beyond the subjects. The families should have been informed and given the rights as participants in the experiment.


Black, D. (1948). On the rationale of group decision-making. The Journal of Political Economy, 23-34.Behi, R., & Nolan, M. (1994).

Ethical issues in research. British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing), 4(12), 712-716.

Kock, N. (1998). Can communication medium limitations foster better group outcomes? An action research study. Information & Management, 34(5), 295-305.

Lewin, K. (1943). Forces behind food habits and methods of change. Bulletin of the National Research Council, 108, 35-65. SPARQ. (n.d.).

To Make Change, Start With A Crowd | SPARQ. Retrieved from

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