This study explores food image creation as an integral aspect of food styling as a profession. Q-methodology, with its five steps, guided this study. At the outset, the qualitative part of the research, interviews with South African food stylists provided guidance to develop the concourse. Food magazine readers examined a set of six selected images and matched each of them against six aesthetic indicators, also indicating their subsequent behavioural intent. For this process the Q-sort method was applied in which a predetermined sample of the readership of two of South Africa‟s most eminent food magazines was involved. It is a reliable psychometric technique based on photographs that is often used in non-food related contexts such as architecture and the travel industry. Quantitatively, the data was factor analysed, from which seven factors emerged that corroborated the results. Findings confirm that Q-sort is a useful research approach for non-verbal communication in settings where, through food images, the technical and artistic messaging of food stylists comes from manipulating the assembly of food image content.
It is proposed that, through non-verbal communication, food stylists who are able to purposefully create food images for print media would be able to effectively influence consumers in such a way as to bring about changed behavioural intent and eventual purchasing. Further investigation could consider expanding the theoretical base from which food stylists could pursue ways to alter consumers‟ behavioural intent. Put into practice, the findings could be a guide for food stylists when compiling food images that would successfully communicate intended messages.
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2012.