Paper Authors and Title

Kate Flanagan (Technological University Dublin), John Kearney, Bart Sinteur, Patricia Bulsing, “Food Sustainability: Developing a tool to measure resistance to sustainable food choices”



This study examined if the developed Sustainable Dietary Resistance Scale (SDRS) could detect consumer resistance to a sustainable diet.


This cross-sectional study focused on seven theories of psychological resistance: Reactance, Avoidance Strategy, Scepsis, Cognitive Dissonance, Inertia, Social Validation, and Construal Level Theory. Based on this literature, 26 statements were formulated. The SDRS was issued to participants under 50 and over 50 in Ireland and The Netherlands, yielding 105 valid responses. Independent t-tests compared the mean resistance in the age groups: 50- (n=55) and 50+ (n=50), gender: female (n=76) and male (n=26), and education levels: lower (n=31) and higher (n=74).


Across the age groups, there was a significant difference in four theories: Reactance (p <0.01), Avoidance Strategy (p = 0.03), Cognitive Dissonance (p <0.01), and Inertia (p = 0.02). Greater resistance was observed in the 50+ group. Of the 26 statements, 14 displayed significant differences. The scale demonstrated a strong relationship between gender and resistance to a sustainable diet, with men exhibiting more resistance across all seven theories. A significant difference was observed in 15 of the 26 statements. The SDRS picked up differences between education levels, with lower-educated individuals exhibiting more resistance. A significant difference was observed in three of the seven theories: Reactance (p <0.01), Cognitive Dissonance (p <0.01), and Inertia (p = 0.04). A significant difference was found in eight of the 26 statements.


The findings indicate that the SDRS can detect differences; however, it requires refined demographic accuracy, clearer statements, and a larger sample for subtle differences.


Download and view Kate Flanagan’s slides.