Disgust sensitivity and kosher food preferences among the non-Jewish population in the US

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About $200 billion of kosher-certified foods are purchased each year in the US, and companies can pay up to $100,000 to private agencies to certify that their products meet kosher standards. Although kosher certification is ostensibly for the purpose of Jewish religious observance, the vast majority of people who buy kosher food are not Jewish. In this study, we examine the psychological drivers of these purchases among people who are not Jewish. Our study found that people with high levels of contamination disgust sensitivity were more likely to prefer kosher food, which is often marketed in a manner that implies that it has fewer contaminants. The effect of contamination disgust sensitivity on preference for kosher food was partially mediated by perceptions that kosher food rated highly on dimensions related to oral disgust (food rejection) rather than on dimensions related to moral disgust. Moderated mediation was significant for the factor of subjective knowledge, such that the mediation effect only occurred among participants who reported high levels of knowledge about kosher food. Strength of religious affiliation was a marginally significant covariate, as people who reported high levels of affiliation with organized religion had a greater preference for kosher food.

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