This is your stomach speaking: anthropomorphized health messages reduce portion size preferences among the powerless

Fiona J. Newton, Joshua D. Newton, Jimmy Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


As food portion sizes increase, so too does the amount of energy consumed. The purpose of this study was therefore to determine whether the portion size preferences of individuals could be reduced. Across two experiments, this paper shows that a personally threatening health message that has been endorsed by a digestive system featuring anthropomorphic cues can reduce portion size preferences for energy dense foods and beverages, but only among those who feel powerless. This effect emerges because partially anthropomorphizing an internal body system transforms that system into an agent of social influence. The powerless, who are more sensitive to social influence than the powerful, will consequently be more attuned to threatening health information that has been endorsed by this partially anthropomorphized body system, shaping their behavioral preferences. Anthropomorphizing elements of the self may therefore represent a novel means for motivating behavior change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Food
  • Portion size
  • Power
  • Threat

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