Research v. Media The Science of Food Nostalgia

Comfort food can be a necessity at times especially when you do not have family or friends around to talk everything out with or give you a hug of assurance. Food becomes the next option to bring you a sense of peace because it has become associated with positive memories. Two articles that will be evaluated will be a media article called ‘The Science of Food Nostalgia’ written by Alexandra Sifferlin and a research article titled ‘Threatened Belonging and Preference for Comfort Food Among the Securely Attached’ written by Jordan D.

Troisi, Shira Gabriel, Jaye L. Derrick, and Alyssa Geisler. The media article gives a brief overview of the research article that will be evaluated later on. ‘The Science of Food Nostalgia’ gives an overview of why we eat certain foods for comfort. Positive experiences while eating those foods can influence our desire for those foods. This article references the study done by Jordan Troisi at the University of The South dealing with comfort food and social isolation.

Since comfort food is associated with relationships of any type, the more traditional meals or things you would see at a party seem to be the most common types of comfort food. Another factor besides taste that helps ease the feeling of loneliness. A study done by Chelsea Reid, from Virginia Commonwealth University, uses 12 different scents to see how people would react. Most people when given a scent that seemed familiar had a feeling of nostalgia. People have this need to be a part of a group which leads to why people eat comfort food.

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Comfort food allows people to have a sense of belonging without physical being in an environment with people. In study 1, the hypothesis was ‘Securely attached individuals should view a comfort food more favorably after being exposed to a belongingness threat.’ (Troisi, 2015, 60)

The purpose of study 1 was to evaluate what social factors can influence how someone views comfort food. The sample size consisted of 77 undergraduates from the University at Buffalo. The ethnicity/race of the sample consists of White (43%), Asian/Asian American (41%), African American (9%), and other races (7%). The two main things used for measurement are 2×2 between-subjects design, which tests belongingness threat and attachment style, and a three-item evaluation of the chips used. The results showed that participants with a positive association with the food gave it a higher score than those who did not. In study 2, the hypothesis was ‘securely attached people should be more likely to consume comfort food particularly in response to feelings of isolation.’ (Troisi, 2015, 61) The purpose of this research is to expand on study 1 by giving a larger variety of comfort foods and the number of times the participants consume the comfort food.

The sample of participants consists of 86 undergraduates the University at Buffalo. The ethnicity/race of the participants consists of White (76%), Asian/Asian American (8%), African American (6%), and other races (10%). The researchers used chronic attachment styles and a 14-day daily journal as measurement tools. The results showed that people who had positive associations with comfort food ate them more often when they needed to. The research article and media article differ on a large scale but they have a few similarities. Both the media and research articles have the same main topic which was comfort food. Each one went about explaining the purpose of their curiosity of the subject differently but they both had the idea to write about it and send it out to the general public. They both use research to back up their points regardless of how loosely it is intertwined in the writing. The article written by Sifferlin summarized the research done by Troisi and Reid which increases the amount of similarity between the two articles. Both come to the conclusion that humans are social creatures and have this need of belonging which influences the littlest things such as the type of food we eat.

The need to belong deals with relationships, whether it be romantic or platonic which in turn can create positive associations with certain comfort foods. The media report attempts to be accurate and concise when describing the research but it does miss the mark a little. There were two studies done by Troisi, study one dealt with a particular brand of potato chips while study two focused on comfort food as a whole and had more involvement with the participants such as having them keep a 14-day daily journal. The popular press article does not accurately portray the topic because roughly half of the article is about comfort food and the other half is about smell as another source of comfort. The author tries to explain that ties to different types of senses help us cope with the idea of being lonely by reminding us of times when we were with family. The media report showed biases from the beginning because the author began by telling the reader a backstory about herself.

Throughout the article, the author would add imagery for the reader to understand what she sees and feels when she eats comfort food. She talks about how summer is the season for nostalgia. Towards the end, she talks about her personal experience with comfort food even though the food may not be the top of the line food. No, the article was not summarized objectively without bias. Most media articles will have some sort of bias opinion incorporated into them because that is how they gain readers. The research article had two different studies that both came to the same conclusion. People who have positive associations with comfort food will be more likely to eat it whenever they are feeling isolated or lonely. This is because we as humans associate certain foods with socializing which in turn make us feel as though we belong somewhere. The feeling of belongingness brings comfort to us which explains why when we eat food served during family meals or at parties we feel a sense of calm. While the media article showed a bias point of view on comfort food it still has truth written into it. The research may have not been perfectly described but the fact still remains, we as people, we crave the idea of belongingness and that alone brings us comfort.

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Research v. Media The Science of Food Nostalgia. (2022, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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