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Explaining Unexplainable Food Choices

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


In recent years, psychologists have started to investigate the downstream consequences of nonconsciously activated behaviour (acting in an ‘explanatory vacuum’). Results have shown that when such behaviour is norm‐violating, people experience a need to confabulate reasons for this behaviour. The present paper aims to add more convincing evidence for this assumption. Study 1 addresses this question by replicating Study 2 of Adriaanse et al. (2014) while adding a condition in which people are post‐hoc provided with an explanation for their behaviour. Study 2 addresses this question by explicitly demanding an explanation for a nonconsciously steered choice. Both studies were conducted in the context of eating behaviour. Results of both studies were indicative of confabulation as a downstream consequence of nonconsciously steered eating behaviour (Study 1) or food choice (Study 2). Future research should address the potential of confabulated reasons spilling over to next occasions.