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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Can images and textual information lead to meat avoidance? The mediating role of cognitive dissonance

Weingarten, Nina; Lagerkvist, Carl-Johan


The central research objective of this paper is to investigate cognitive dissonance as a mechanism to explain the effect of information provision on meat avoidance. As communication medium, we investigate the effect of images and textual information. We introduce a cognitive dissonance measure in an experimental online study with a between-subjects design (n = 379). Participants were regular meat-eaters and they received either textual information about the meat-health relationship, an animal-meat image, a combination of both, or a control stimulus. Our results show that images and textual information are effective at triggering dissonance in meat -eaters and that cognitive dissonance mediates the relationship between information provision and meat avoid-ance. Contrary to previous research, we found no support for a direct effect of images and textual information on meat avoidance. Our study shows potential avenues to reduce meat consumption of regular meat-eaters, which contributes to improving consumers' health and can reduce the negative impact of current meat production levels on animal welfare and environmental sustainability. When creating public information campaigns, policy makers and marketers should design information to trigger cognitive dissonance in consumers, because that is needed to yield an effect on meat avoidance.


Cognitive dissonance; Meat avoidance; Images; Textual information; Mediation analysis

Published in

Food Quality and Preference
2023, Volume: 104, article number: 104747

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Science

    Publication identifier


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