Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Food Science and Technology

Major Professor

Mary A. Bass

Committee Members

Grace E. Goertz, Lura M. Odland, Richard Jantz, Harry Lindquist


The similarities and differences in the food behavior, food preferences, mass media use, environmental factors and demographic characteristics of 11 selected mothers and their 15 adult-daughters in an homogenous rural area in Upper East Tennessee were studied. The degree of agreement between mother and adult-daughter in the variables named above was associated to their inter-personal communication, age, education and attitudes toward modernity and familism.

A field study method, including the use of repeated interviews, based on an extensive interview-schedule was used to define similarities and differences in behaviors and attitudes of the purposively sampled group of mothers and their adult-daughters.

A random sample survey method, including an interview administered, short, questionnaire, was used to discuss food behavior and mass media use with 32 randomly selected homemakers in the same county. The random sample survey data provided a check on the bias inherent in the purposive sampling of the field study mothers and their adult-daughters. In addition, the random sample survey was evaluated for its effectiveness as a method for the collection of food-ways data similar to that collected by the field study method.

It was hypothesized that the adult-daughters, older (age in years); with low education (years in school); with a moderate orientation to change; and high inter-personal communication with her mother; would exhibit food behavior, food preferences and mass media use similar to her mother. In general, this hypothesis was not strongly supported. The association among the variables food behavior, food preferences, mass media use, environmental factors, inter-personal communication, age, education and attitudes toward modernity and familism was low (W = 0.276, p ≤ 0.01). A higher association (W = 0.554, p ≤ 0.001) was achieved when the variables age, education and orientation to change were not included in the computation. None of the variables associated, however, can be eliminated from consideration in the study of the transmission of food-ways or of the factors effecting changes in food-ways.

Food-ways appear to be changing rapidly, as noted in this two generational study of mothers and their adult-daughters in Upper East Tennessee. Trends are discussed. Some sections of the field study interview schedule require further refinement and items may require weighting to better determine the relationships of these variables in the transmission of foodways from mother to daughter. Suggestions for refinement are made. In general, the problem of defining the transmission of foodways, even in an homogeneous area, is complex. The study of the stability of the family's foodways, as exhibited by the daughter in her maturity, also is a complex problem.

Evaluation of this study's approach to the investigation of food-ways indicates that the random sample survey and the field study methods together, preceded by a participant-observation experience, provided the researcher with the data for statistical analysis and the understanding needed to optimize interpretation of results as well as to plan educational materials, programs or further research for the area studied.

Selected food practices, food preferences, food terminology, mass media use and environmental factors affecting food practices in the Upper East Tennessee area are included for possible use in food and nutrition education materials development. In view of increasing food costs and world resource shortages, some disturbing trends in the use of food resources are noted.

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