Grantee: Lisa M. Miller

Lisa M. Miller

Lisa M. Miller, Ph.D.

Cognitive Psychologist and Behavioral Scientist
  • University of California - Davis

Lisa Miller, Ph.D., examines how individuals think about their health, that is, how they process (pay attention to, comprehend, and remember) information and use it to make health-related decisions, particularly those related to diet and nutrition. Dr. Miller also studies how age-related changes in cognitive abilities, especially declines in working memory and growth in knowledge, as well as motivation (e.g., control beliefs, self-efficacy, interest) influence health information processing and decision-making in later life. Older adults, who have a disproportionate number of chronic diseases, are better able to care for themselves when they understand their conditions and how to manage them.

Dr. Miller and her colleagues are currently investigating how nutrition information on food labels is communicated to consumers. What nutrition information do consumers pay attention to, what do they understand, what confuses or misleads them, and how do they make food-related decisions based on this information? The answers to these questions will help inform policy regarding the content and format of food labels and will also assist nutrition educators and clinicians design education programs to help consumers learn how to use food labels more effectively.

Dr. Miller's research on food labels has shown that individuals pay attention to nutrition information when making purchasing decisions. Although this is encouraging, her findings also suggest that calories may be getting too much attention in that individuals use small differences in calories to make decisions while ignoring large differences in nutrients such as fiber and sugar.

The most compelling thing I've observed is that prior knowledge engages adults of all ages in learning and eases the burden of acquiring new knowledge and skills, which has huge implications for how we promote the adoption of new, often effortful, health behaviors.”

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