Navigating the discomfort of change: perceptions and experiences of reducing meat and/or dairy consumption

Wehbe, Lara (2024) Navigating the discomfort of change: perceptions and experiences of reducing meat and/or dairy consumption. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Across three projects, I aimed to explore the role of habits, social norms, and identities in the transition towards reducing one’s meat and/or dairy consumption from a self-control perspective and what other factors promote or hinder reduction efforts. I also aimed to examine perceptions of vegans, through stereotypes and meta-stereotypes about vegans, to examine how these influence people’s motivation to maintain dietary changes and their experiences of reduction more broadly.

In Chapter 2, I reported a qualitative survey study with 80 meat and/or dairy reducers who predominantly held environmental motives for reducing. Through open-ended questions, I explored the role of habits, identity, and social norms, from a self-control perspective and analysed the data using reflexive thematic analysis.

In Chapter 3, I conducted a quantitative survey through two studies to assess whether vegans (N = 200) and reducers (N = 272) hold stereotypes about vegans and believe that omnivores stereotype vegans (meta-stereotypes). I assessed whether meta-stereotypes were associated with vegan identity, vegan’s outgroup regard of omnivores, and explored the strongest predictor of maintaining a vegan diet. I also examined whether negative meta-stereotypes were associated with the motivation to maintain dietary changes.

In Chapter 4, I analysed responses from five open-ended questions as part of Study 2 of Chapter 3 (N = 272) using reflexive thematic analysis. These questions related to perceptions from participants on the most important barrier to their reduction efforts. Questions also related to perceptions of vegans that participants, and others in their social circle, held, and how these perceptions influenced them or others who are reducing their meat and/or dairy consumption.

Overall, findings from empirical chapters suggest that situational cues triggered conflicting experiences, including motivational, cognitive, and affective conflict. When conflict was detected, this often prompted the need for self-control and motivations to control efforts. Additionally, holding negative meta-stereotypes reflected social polarisation. I did not find evidence that meta-stereotypes were linked to people’s motivation to maintain dietary changes, yet initial evidence pointed to meta-stereotypes playing a role in choices of identity labels. Finally, I highlighted the complex interplay of factors that underlie reducing meat and/or dairy consumption, from people’s psychological capability (e.g., self-control) or internal cues (e.g., habits), motivations (e.g., desires and goals that are often incompatible) as well as opportunity from the social or physical environment (e.g., social pressure, availability) that influence avoiding consuming meat or dairy depending on situation in which the behaviour is performed.

In Chapter 5, I reviewed findings from previous chapters, linking my findings to the wider theoretical frameworks in behavioural and identity research, such as grounded cognition theories of desire and motivation as well as the unified model of vegetarian identity. I also suggested practical implications, limitations, and future directions that would support the transition to consuming less meat and/or dairy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Supervisor's Name: Papies, Dr. Esther and Banas, Dr. Kasia
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84243
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2024 15:15
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 15:16
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84243

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