Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Marjorie P. Penfield

Committee Members

Jean D. Skinner, Alan Lasater, Daniel Hubbard, Roger Swagler


Socio-cultural, cognitive-affective, and situational variables affecting the food-related behavior of young, childless, Southern couples were explored. Couples were married less than 18 months. Each spouse was less than 34 years of age; neither had been previously married.

Seventy couples were interviewed; 55 couples completed diaries on the cost, types, and amounts of food purchased. Husbands and wives each completed questionnaires on food-related values, attitudes, and beliefs; food preparation and buying knowledge; food-related decision-making and tasks; and meal practices.

Wives' food preparation knowledge scores were higher than husbands' scores; both were related negatively to expenditure for convenience foods. Food-related decisions and tasks were more apt to be shared than were non-food-related decisions and tasks. Before marriage, the frequency of meal consumption was higher among husbands than among wives; snack consumption did not differ. Wives' frequency of meal consumption increased after marriage.

Ten attitude dimensions were factored from 89 statements. Husbands' index scores differed from those of wives on the aesthetics-pleasure, utility, and food preparation skills dimensions. Both husbands' and wives' attitude indices and food preparation knowledge scores were found to be indicators in regression models of the average weekly expenditure, percentages of the food dollar, and average cost per market unit of 10 major food groups and of food-away-from-home. Estimated expenditures for items other than food tended to be negatively related to expenditures for food.

Aesthetics-pleasure, nutrition, and convenience dimensions were common indicators of food expenditures; economy and "natural-health" foods dimensions were not. The aesthetics-pleasure dimension was a positive indicator of vegetable expenditure and a negative indicator of milk products expenditure. The familiarity dimension was negatively related to vegetable expenditure.

About 39% of the food dollar was spent for food-away-from-home and about 61% for food-at-home. About 25.5% of the at-home food expenditure was for meat and meat substitutes, 12.6% for grain products, and 6.5% for fruit. Convenience products, as a separate, composite group, made up 12.6% of the food dollar. Food consumption and use patterns of young couples differ from those of single young adults and families with children. Both cognitive-affective and situational variables are important indicators of food expenditures.

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