Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Marjorie P. Penfield

Committee Members

Jean D. Skinner, Hugh O. Jaynes, Jane R. Savage


The study was an ex post facto exploratory field study designed to investigate the food-related behavior of husbands and wives of college and post-college married, childless couples ages 18 to 31. Respondents were or had been students at the University of Northern Iowa. The major purpose was to examine food-related behavior in social episodes.

The investigation was conducted in 2 phases. In Phase I, husbands and wives of 10 college and 10 post-college couples were interviewed individually to elicit food-related episodes and appropriate types of foods for those episodes. That information then was used to develop questionnaires to be administered to a different sample.

In Phase II, 25 college and 25 post-college couples completed questionnaires developed to explore socio-cultural characteristics and the couples' perceived behaviors related to procurement, preparation, consumption and storage of food. Differences were observed between husbands and wives ratings for 24 food-related episodes investigated. Where differences were noted, they involved situations at home with spouse, alone, or with relatives or friends; eating away from home with spouse; shopping for groceries alone or with spouse and eating with children. Respondents evaluated the appropriateness foods for 20 of the episodes studied. They differed in their perceptions of appropriateness for 42 of the 63 foods investigated.

Fewer differences were observed between college and post-college couples than between husbands and wives. Where differences in food appropriateness ratings by college and post-college couples were observed, the college couples perceived the food as more appropriate for the episode. More differences for the appropriateness of a food for the episode were found between college wives and post-college wives than among the other groups. Many differences among couples within groups were noted, which would seem to reinforce the individual as unique.

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