Using the Power of Persuasion to Influence Student Food Choices



Individuals make thousands of decisions each day and are faced with hundreds of food choices. If we had to stop and analyze every decision completely we would never get anything done. That is why we often look for shortcuts or clues to help us out. And students are no different. Research from social psychology says the persuasion principles of Liking, Reciprocity, Scarcity, Consistency, Consensus, and Authority offer people clues or decision shortcuts on how to behave. These principles offer an alternative to restriction and elimination of food choices and are a positive way to encourage kids to eat healthier foods. Zena Edwards, MS, RD, Associate Professor, Food Safety & Nutrition, Washington State University Extenion covers how these “decision triggers” can be used ethically in a school environment to influence students’ food choices.

After watching this webinar participants will be able to:

  • List Cialdini’s Six Persuasion Principles
  • Identify ways to use these principles to influence student food choices
  • Find resources for using the persuasion principles

Additional Resources

Read about how the principles can be used in School Food service at the eXtension Healthier Choices in Schools Community of Practice site: 

YouTube Videos on the Persuasion Principles: 

The Science of Compliance, Cialdini & Martin 2004, British Cardiac Society

Harnessing the Science of PersuasionRobert Cialdini, Harvard Business Review 2001

The Chickasaw Nation WIC used the persuasion principles to increase breastfeeding initiation rates (Note: Dr. Hildebrand is a member of our Healthier Choices in Schools Community of Practice!)