Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Paul Rozin

Second Advisor

Deborah A. Small


In the modern Western world, consumers prefer natural foods, medicines, and personal care products and have a desire to connect with the natural world. Despite evident consumer demand for natural products, little research has been devoted to the psychological underpinnings of the natural preference. The present dissertation will examine the psychology of the natural preference and its implications in three chapters. Chapter 1 will expand the scope of explanations of opposition to genetically modified food by applying established theories about naturalness, sacred values and the law of contagion. Chapter 2 will examine how inferences about safety and efficacy of natural products cause natural to be more strongly preferred when preventing as opposed to curing an ailment. Chapter 3 will explore how naturalness operates as a trustworthiness cue and is more strongly preferred in the absence of other trustworthiness cues (e.g., brand familiarity).