The art of dieting: Exposure to thin sculptures effortlessly reduces the intake of unhealthy food in motivated eaters

Stämpfli, Aline; Brunner, Thomas (2016). The art of dieting: Exposure to thin sculptures effortlessly reduces the intake of unhealthy food in motivated eaters. Food Quality and Preference, 50, pp. 88-93. Elsevier 10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.01.012

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Thin, human-like sculptures by the artist Alberto Giacometti, applied as environmental cues, have been found to facilitate dieting by reducing chocolate intake and promoting healthy snack choices. However, the processes underlying this “Giacometti effect” have been left unexplored so far. The present study therefore first examines the effortlessness of the effect. More specifically, it aims to determine whether the sculptures reduce unhealthy food intake when only few cognitive resources for their influence are available. For this purpose, the participants in a chip tasting were given the cognitive load task of memorizing either 10 or two digits during the tasting. The results indicate that the sculptures reduced participants’ chip intake independent of the cognitive load. Thus, they influenced participants’ eating behavior even when only few cognitive resources were available. The results also indicate that the sculptures reduced chip intake only when the participants liked the chips. The sculptures could thus exert their influence when individuals were motivated to eat and the dieting cues were useful. The finding that the Giacometti sculptures, applied as environmental dieting or health cues, influenced individuals when only few cognitive resources were available, could indicate a crucial advantage for the application of these cues in complex, real-world settings.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Innovation Management > Consumer Behavior

UniBE Contributor:

Stämpfli, Aline and Brunner, Thomas


600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics








Sabrina Geissbühler

Date Deposited:

02 May 2016 10:21

Last Modified:

20 Sep 2017 19:28

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Environmental cue; Priming; Nudging; Effortless influence; Dieting goal; Motivation; Eating; Food intake




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