Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Mary Ann Bass

Committee Members

Grayce E. Goertz, Roy E. Beauchene, Elizabeth A. Yetley, Jo Lynn Cunningham


The child's food preferences are influenced by several variables. Some of these included his flavor perception, television commercials, sibling influence, and other family characteristics. These factors vary depending upon his place in the family and his development at any particular period in his life.

Thirty 4-to 5-year-old children and their mothers were interviewed separately to determine each of their perceptions of the child's presweetened cereal preferences. Sensory tests were used to determine the child's actual presweetened cereal preference and his physiological perception of the sweet taste and flavor. His familiarity with television commercials was explored and he was asked to name the favorite cereals of his parents and siblings. Each child's mother was interviewed to investigate her family's cereal preferences and practices. Various demographic family characteristics and the mother's knowledge about food and nutrition also were assessed. For analysis, the families were considered as a total group and as two sub-groups. These sub-groups were families which had children older than the 4- to 5-year-old child (Older Sib Families) and families which had the 4- to 5-year-old child as the oldest or only child (No Older Sib Families). Correlations between selected variables were investigated.

When considering the total group, as the child's ability to differentiate cereal flavors increased, his preference for presweetened cereals decreased. This indicated that when flavor perception was low, criteria other than flavor may have influenced the child's preference for presweetened cereal.

When considering the two sub-groups, the variables related to the use of presweetened cereals differed for the Older Sib Families and the No Older Sib Families. In the Older Sib Families, the mothers' perceptions of the cereals liked by their young children were correlated with factors derived from their experience with the older siblings rather than with the 4- to 5-year-olds' preferences. However, the mothers' purchases were correlated with young children's preferences. In No Older Sib Families, the mothers' perceptions that their young children liked presweetened cereals were correlated with the children's actual preferences for presweetened cereal, but the purchases were limited by the family income. The presence or absence of older siblings seemed to influence both the children's preferences for presweetened cereals and their mothers' responses to their preferences.

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