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Journal Articles Food Quality and Preference Year : 2021

To fear the unknown: covid-19 confinement, fear, and food choice


The coronavirus outbreak in December 2019 completely changed the dynamic of consumption in different sectors of industry. The food and beverage industries have been profoundly affected, from production, to modifications in consumers’ choices. Among the different reasons behind those modifications is confinement, which forces consumers to stay at home for an extended period and just go out to perform essential tasks, such as going to the supermarket. We hypothesized that this new dynamic of consumption could create a situation of fear that changes food choice. To test this hypothesis, two studies were conducted in three countries with a different degree of confinement: Mexico (flexible), Spain (strict), and Peru (hard). Study one consisted of a free association task with 60 participants in each country with the inductor word “coronavirus and food”. The different associations served as the basis to build a structured questionnaire, which was used in the second study focused on fear and food choice. The second study was applied to 450 participants in the same three countries. Results showed that fear can be separated into nine dimensions: social, emotional, food supply, government, basic needs, food-delivery, overeating, immunity, and family conflicts. The participants could also be clustered into four different groups that differ in their country of origin and sex, but also in their food choice. Overall, the results showed that fear influenced consumer’s food choices during a confinement period.

Dates and versions

hal-03186485 , version 1 (31-03-2021)



Carlos Gómez-Corona, Vonimihaingo Ramaroson Rakotosamimanana, María Pilar Sáenz-Navajas, Heber Rodrigues, Ernesto Franco-Luesma, et al.. To fear the unknown: covid-19 confinement, fear, and food choice. Food Quality and Preference, 2021, 92, pp.104251. ⟨10.1016/j.foodqual.2021.104251⟩. ⟨hal-03186485⟩
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