New paper: Children’s sweet tooth: Explicit ratings vs. Implicit bias measured by the Approach avoidance task (AAT)

Martina Galler (ESR1) recently published a paper in collaboration with her supervisors, Paula Varela, Tormod Næs, Kristian Hovde Liland and Gastón Ares. The study was conducted within the master thesis of Emma Mikkelsen in Martina’s project. The paper is open access in the Journal: Food Quality and Preferences.

Automatic food decision making

Food choices that are often made within seconds. Methods that can measure automatic decision making mechanisms might therefore be highly relevant to predict children’s food choices.

This study assessed the Approach avoidance task (AAT) to measure children’s implicit1 motivational tendencies (=approach bias) towards foods differing in sweetness and calorie content. The AAT is a particularly simple, game-like implicit task where participants use a joystick to pull or push pictures. But so far it had not come to application with children in a food-related context.

We measured children’s reaction time for pulling and pushing food and non-food pictures and calculated an approach bias:

Children showed an approach bias towards food but not for non-food pictures. Within food pictures, no significant difference between calorie and sweetness levels were found, however approach biases were weakly associated to children’s liking ratings of the food items. Further, children’s approach biases differed depending on their hunger state. E.g. hungry children approached calory dense, non-desert food more than non-hungry children.

1Implicit attitudes: If you are curious about implicit tests and your implicit attitudes, you can try it one here:



Galler, M., Mikkelsen, E., Næs, T., Liland, K. H., Ares, G., & Varela, P. (2022, 2022/03/01/). Children’s sweet tooth: Explicit ratings vs. Implicit bias measured by the Approach avoidance task (AAT). Food Quality and Preference, 96, 104416.

Open access:


, , , , , ,