Explaining unexplainable food choices

Marieke A. Adriaanse, Floor M. Kroese, Jonas Weijers, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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, Weijers, De Ridder, De Witt Huberts, and Evers () 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)O15-O24
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • attribution
  • confabulation
  • eating
  • explanatory vacuum
  • nonconscious

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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