The Cornell Food Choice Research Group studies the factors and processes involved in food choice. For 20 years we have examined how people experience and perceive food and eating in their daily lives. Our studies have generated new conceptual models and understandings of how personal, social, and environmental factors as well as life course experiences are involved as people select, prepare, and eat food.

Our research and models of food choice can be applied in several areas:

1. This work can illuminate the individualized meanings and relationships in food decisions, as a starting point for researchers and health professionals to see beyond their own experiences. The unique perspectives of others are important in understanding our own interpretations and in identifying the gaps between ours and those of others. Appreciating diverse perspectives is a key skill in working effectively with people, and in the ability to assess ourselves and our ideas.

2. The multi-disciplinary perspective of our Food Choice models allows behavior to be understood in a holistic way leading to collaboration and better management of the multi-faceted problems (i.e. individual health problems, social problems, and environmental challenges to health) related to food and eating.

3. Our food choice models provide frameworks for considering the broad scope and dynamic changes in factors involved in food choice.

4. In clinical settings, the models can be used as guides for assessing important factors involved in client food choices. The models help to identify personal values that are involved in food choices and understand each individual's unique and complicated personal food system that guides food choices.

5. In public policy the model can identify social and economic changes that may improve healthy eating, and enhance the ability to target subgroups.

For more information on food choice models, contact Dr. Jeffery Sobal at

Jeffery Sobal, Professor Emeritus (

Carol Devine, Professor Emeritus (

The one semester undergraduate course titled "Social Science Perspectives on Food and Nutrition" (NS 2450) is taught annually at Cornell University in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. This course uses theories, concepts and methods from the social sciences to examine food, eating, and nutrition. The food choice process model is used as a conceptual framework for examining the scope of social science analyses of nutrition. An important objective of the course is to expand student's thinking about food and eating to begin to understand the constructions and interpretations that other people use in food choice. Students complete qualitative and quantitative research assignments to better understand the construction of food choice.

We have taken a constructivist approach in examining how people make food choices, and used in-depth interviews with individuals and groups to understand how people experience food and eating from their own perspectives. We have followed up this qualitative inquiry with some surveys and quantitative analysis as well.

We focus on understanding individual variation in food choice in developed societies with complex food systems. We have been interested in understanding variation within an individual in different eating situations. Our studies have included men and women living in New York State's rural, suburban, and urban communities, who vary in income, educational status, ethnicity, and household composition.

Our inductive research has led to the development of a number of models. For more information, contact Dr. Jeffery Sobal at

Examples of models are:

  • Food Choice Process Model: A framework that portrays the processes involved in making food choices.
  • Food Behavior Model: A model depicting the types of food behaviors involved in food choices from acquisition to disposal of food.
  • Multiple Dimensions of Eating Episodes: A model depicting diverse contextual aspects of food choice.
  • Food Choice Scripts: A framework that depicts the complex thought processes involved in food choices.
  • Food Choice Routines: A framework for showing the regularity in various dimensions of food choice.
  • Value Negotiation: A model of the considerations people weigh in making food choices.
  • Value Negotiations of Hockey Players: A model of the seasonal changes in food choice value negotiation among hockey players.
  • Food Choice Classification: A model showing the different levels of food classifications people use.
  • Food Choice Identity: A model showing the relationships between a person's identities and food choice.
  • Food Choice Capacity: A framework describing the factors shaping how a person judges their ability to meet their food choice goals.
  • Food Choice Trajectory: A model showing transitions in food choice over a person's life course.
  • Eating Maps: A framework describing places, times, and people in food choices.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
  • American Society for Nutrition:The American Society For Nutrition is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together the world's top researchers, clinical nutritionists and industry to advance knowledge and application of nutrition for the sake of humans and animals.
  • Appetite Journal: Appetite is an international research journal specializing in behavioral nutrition and the cultural, sensory, and physiological influences on choices and intakes of foods and drinks.
  • Association for the Study of Food and Society: The Association for The Study of Food and Society is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to exploring the complex relationships among food, culture and society. Their publication is called Food, Culture and Society.
  • Cornell NutritionWorks: A website for nutrition professionals providing continuing professional education and a communication forum with other practitioners.
  • Cornell Division of Nutritional Sciences: Among the largest nutritional academic units in the United States devoted to human nutrition. The DNS mission and scholarly activities integrate knowledge from the physical, biological, and social sciences in the four focus areas of molecular, human, international, and community nutrition.
  • Economic Research Service: A primary source of economic information and research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that informs decisions on economic and policy issues involving food, farming, natural resources and rural development.
  • Foodways Section of the American Folklore Society: An association of people who study and communicate knowledge about folklore throughout the world.
  • Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior: An organization that represents the unique professional interests of nutrition educators and is dedicated to promoting effective nutrition education and communication to support and improve healthful behaviors.

The insights that have emerged from our research are the result of engaging and productive research collaborations among current and former Cornell Food Choice Research Group members.

Faculty Researchers

Former Student Researchers

  • Stephanie Bostic, MS, Ph.D.
  • Johanna Carroll Eldridge, Ph.D.
  • Tara Agrawal Pedulla, Ph.D.
  • Brenda Moodie Ahye, M.S., R.D.
  • Christine E. Blake, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Katarina Edstrom Ashburn, M.S., R.D.
  • Jennifer Cowan, M.S., Ph.D.
  • Laura Winter Falk, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Tanis Furst, Ph.D.
  • Jennifer Jabs, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Bernadette Janas, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Soo-Kung Lee, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Amanda Lynch, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Angela Odoms-Young, Ph.D.
  • Marie-Claude Paquette, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Susan Travis, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Pamela Weisberg-Shapiro Ph.D.
  • Ronnie Bowen Westbrook, Ph.D.
  • Karen Kim Yeary, Ph.D.
  • Oshri Adri
  • Jennifer Arougheti
  • Amy Brown
  • Roger Brunson
  • McKenzie Caldwell
  • Luana Chen
  • Felicia Chiu
  • Rachel DeMel
  • Hannah Fehlner-Peach
  • Samantha Giertych
  • Lindsey Giserman
  • Karen Gunderson
  • Isabella Herold
  • Camille Kapaun
  • Janet Kim
  • Lindsay Krasna
  • Jessica Lebovits
  • Louis Levine
  • Nancy Machado
  • Elizabeth Madore
  • Paige Mintz
  • Matt Nulty
  • Caroline Quentin
  • Annelise Quinn
  • Lisa Ranzenhofer
  • Nolan Reese
  • Olivia Roche
  • Marc Seligson
  • Ryan Smart
  • Madeline Tchack
  • Alyssa Thompson

Other Former Researchers

  • Jared Bisogni
  • Patrick Blake
  • Kathy Dudley
  • Margaret (Connors) Jastran
  • Pat Thonney

A selected list of our publications about food choice follows (in alphabetical order):

1. Ahye BA, Devine CM, Odoms-Young AM. Values expressed through intergenerational family food and nutrition management systems among African-American women. Family and Community Health. 2006;29(1):5-16.

2. Bisogni CA, Jastran M, Seligson M, Thompson A. How people interpret healthy eating: Contributions of qualitative researchJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2012;44(4):282-301.

3. Bisogni CA, Jastran M, Blake CE. The construction of eating episodes, food scripts and food routines. In: Preedy V, Watson RR, Martin CR, eds. Handbook of Behavior, Food and Nutrition. New York: Springer; 2011:987-1009.

4. Bisogni CA, Falk LW, Madore E, Blake CE, Jastran M, Sobal JS, Devine CM. Dimensions of everyday eating and drinking episodesAppetite.2007;48(2):218-231.

5. Bisogni CA, Jastran M, Shen L, Devine CM. A biographical study of food choice capacity: Standards, circumstances, and food management skillsJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2005;37(6):284-291.

6. Bisogni CA. Communicating about food choice: Tools for professional development. Ithaca, NY: Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University; 2003.

7. Bisogni CA, Connors M, Devine CM, Sobal J. Who we are and how we eat: A qualitative study of identities in food choiceJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2002;34(3):128-139.

8. Blake CE, Bell BA, Freedman DA, Colabianchi N, Liese AD. The Eating Identity Type Inventory (EITI): Development and associations with dietAppetite. 2013;69(1):15-22.

9. Blake CE, Wethington E, Farrell TJ, Bisogni CA, Devine CM. Behavioral contexts, food-choice coping strategies, and dietary quality of a multiethnic sample of employed parentsJournal of the American Dietetic Association. 2011;111(3):401-407.

10. Blake CE, Devine CM, Wethington E, Jastran M, Farrell TJ, Bisogni CA. Employed parents' satisfaction with food choice coping strategies: influence of gender and structure.Appetite. 2009;52:711-719.

11. Blake CE, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Jastran M, Devine CM. How adults construct evening meals: Scripts for food choiceAppetite. 2008;51(3):654-662.

12. Blake CE, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Devine CM, Jastran M. Classifying foods in contexts: How adults categorize foods for different eating situationsAppetite. 2007;49(2):500-510.

13. Blake CE. How adults construct food choice: Categories, contexts, and scripts. 2006 Doctoral Thesis, Cornell University.

14. Blake CE, Bisogni CA. Personal and family food choice schemas of rural women in Upstate New YorkJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2003;35:282-293.

15. Blake CE. Emergence of food schema as an influence on food choice: A qualitative investigation of rural women's food choice. 2000 Master's Thesis, Cornell University.

16. Bove CF, Sobal J. Food work in newly married couples: Making family mealsFood, Culture, and Society 2006;9(1):69-89.

17. Bove CF, Sobal J, Rauschenbach BS. Food choices among newly married couples: Convergence, conflict, individualism, and projectsAppetite2003:40(1):25-41.

18. Bowen RL, Devine CM. 'Watching a person who knows how to cook, you'll learn a lot:' Linked lives, cultural transmission, and the food choices of Puerto Rican girlsAppetite. 2011;56(2):290-298.

19. Carson NE, Blake CE, Saunders RP, O'Brien JC. Influences on the food choice behaviors of adults with severe mental illnessOccupational Therapy in Mental Health. 2013;29(4)361-384. ( to Abstract)

20. Connors M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Devine CM. Managing values in personal food systemsAppetite. 2001;36(3):189-200.

21. Devine CM, Farrell TJ, Blake CE, Jastran M, Wethington E, Bisogni CA. Work conditions and the food choice coping strategies of employed parents.Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2009;41(5):365-370.

22. Devine CM, Jastran M, Jabs J, Wethington E, Farrell TJ, Bisogni CA. A lot of sacrifices: Work-family spillover and the food choice coping strategies of low-wage employed parentsSocial Science and Medicine. 2006;63(10):2591-2603.

23. Devine CM, Stoddard AM, Barbeau EM, Naishadham D, Sorensen G. Work-to-family spillover and fruit and vegetable consumption among construction laborersHealth Promotion 2006;21(1):175-182.

24. Devine CM. The life course perspective: understanding food choices in time, social location, and historyJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2005;37(3):121-128.

25. Devine CM, Connors M, Sobal J, Bisogni CA. Sandwiching it in: spillover of work onto food choices and family roles in low and moderate income urban households. Social Science & Medicine. 2003;56(3): 617-630.

26. Devine CM, Wolfe WS, Frongillo EA, Bisogni CA. Life-course events and experiences: Association with fruit and vegetable consumption in 3 ethnic groupsJournal of the American Dietetic Association. 1999;99(3):309-314.

27. Devine CM, Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Connors M. Food choices in three ethnic groups: Interactions of ideals, identities and rolesJournal of Nutrition Education. 1999;31(2):86-93.

28. Devine CM, Connors M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Life-course influences on fruit and vegetable trajectories: Qualitative analysis of food choicesJournal of Nutrition Education. 1998;30(6):361-370.

29. Edstrom K & Devine CM. Consistency in women's orientation to food and nutrition in mid-life and older age: a 10-year qualitative follow-upJournal of Nutrition Education 2001;33:215-223.

30. Falk LW, Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Connors M, Devine CM. Managing healthy eating: Definitions, classifications, and strategies. Sage Journals 2001

31. Falk LW, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Diet change processes of participants in an intensive heart programJournal of Nutrition Education. 2000;32(5):240-250.

32. Falk LW. The Diet Change Process of Individuals Participating in a Multicenter Lifestyle Heart Trial. 1997 Doctoral Thesis, Cornell University.

33. Falk LW, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Food choice processes of older adults: A qualitative investigationJournal of Nutrition Education. 1996;28(5):257-265.

34. Falk LW. Food Choice Processes of Older Adults. 1995 Master's Thesis, Cornell University.

35. Furst T, Connors M, Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Falk LW. Food classifications: Levels and categoriesEcology of Food and Nutrition. 2000;39(5):331-355.

36. Furst T, Connors M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Falk LW. Food choice: A conceptual model of the processAppetite. 1996;26(3):247-265.

37. Harmon BE, Blake CE, Armstead CA, Hebert JR. Intersection of identities: Food, role, and the African-American pastor. NCBI; PMCID: PMC3758249

38. Jabs JA, Devine CM, Bisogni CA, Farrell TJ, Jastran M, Wethington E. Trying to find the quickest way: Employed mothers' constructions of time for foodJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2007;39:18-25.

39. Jabs JA, Devine CM. Time scarcity and food choices: An overview. Appetite. 2006;47(2):196-204.

40. Jabs JA. Time for food: Qualitative and quantitative investigations of issues of time and food preparation. 2006 Doctoral Thesis, Cornell University.

41. Jabs JA, Sobal J, Devine CM. Managing vegetarianism: Identities, norms and interactionsEcology of Food and Nutrition. 2000;39(5): 375-394.

42. Jabs JA, Devine CM, Sobal J. A model of the process of adopting vegetarian diets: Health vegetarians and ethical vegetariansJournal of Nutrition Education. 1998;30(4):196-202.

43. Jabs JA, Devine CM, Sobal, J. Maintaining vegetarian diets: personal factors, social networks, and environmental resources. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research.1998;59(4):183-189.

44. Janas BG, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Cardiac patients' mental representations of dietJournal of Nutrition Education 1996;28(4):223-29.

45. Janas BG, Bisogni CA, Campbell CC. Conceptual model for dietary change to lower serum cholesterolJournal of Nutrition Education.1993;25(4):186-192.

46. Jastran M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Blake CE, Devine CM. Eating routines: Embedded, value based, modifiable, and reflectiveAppetite. 2009;52(1):127-136.

47. Lynch A, Bisogni CA. Gastric bypass patients' goal-strategy-monitoring networks for long-term dietary managementAppetite. 2014;81:138-151.

48. Lynch A, Bisogni CA. Understanding dietary monitoring and self-weighing by gastric bypass patients: A pilot study of self-monitoring behaviors and long-term weight outcomesObesity Surgery. 2012;22(12):1818-1826.

49. Maley M, Warren BS, Devine CM. A second chance: Meanings of body weight, diet, and physical activity to women who have experienced cancer. Science Direct, May-June 2013 Volume 45 Issue 3

50. Odoms AM. The role of religion in the food choice process and dietary practices of African-American Muslim women. 1999 Doctoral Thesis, Cornell University.

51. Paquette M, Devine CM. Dietary trajectories in the menopause transition among Québec womenJournal of Nutrition Education. 2000;32(6):320-328.

52. Rosemond TN, Blake CM, Jones SJ. Coping with chaos: Food choice coping strategies mediate relationships between household chaos and hunger. Conference paper. Annual Meeting of the Obesity Society, Boston, MA 11/2014.

53. Smart LR, Bisogni CA. Personal food systems of male college hockey playersAppetite. 2001;37(1):57-70.

54. Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Jastran M. Food choice is multifaceted, contextual, dynamic, multilevel, integrated, and diverse. Mind, Brain, and Education. 2014;8(1):6-12.

55. Sobal J, Blake CE, Jastran M, Lynch A, Bisogni CA, Devine CM. Eating maps: Places, times, and people in eating episodes. Taylor & Francis Online, May 2012.

56. Sobal J, Beckman L, Pham A, Croy M, Marquart L. Situational food choices: Social representations of where, when, and who consumes whole grain foods. Topics in Clinical Nutrition 2010;25(1):75-83.

57. Sobal J, Bisogni CA. Constructing food choice decisionsAnnals of Behavioral Medicine. 2009;38 (Supplement 1):S37-S46.

58. Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Devine CM, Jastran M. A conceptual model of the food choice process over the life course. 2006; ISBN: 9780851990323

59. Sobal J, Bove C, Rauschenbach BS. Commensal careers at entry into marriage: establishing commensal units and managing commensal circlesThe Sociological Review. 2002;50(3):378-397.

60. Travis SE, Bisogni CA, Ranzenhofer L. A conceptual model of how US families with athletic adolescent daughters manage food and eating. Appetite. 2010;54(1):108-117.

Unpublished Work

Nulty M, Bisogni C, Jastran M. Sleeping, eating, success, and time: Social norms and personal struggles of college undergraduates as they manage fixed and flexible commitments.

Undergraduate Food Choice Research Group. I enjoy eating so I enjoy cooking. It has to get on the plate somehow: Emerging food management approaches of undergraduate students.