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Author Schuldt, Jonathon P
Title Health halo effects of values-based food claims
book jacket
Descript 83 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 72-12, Section: B, page:
Adviser: Norbert Schwarz
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Michigan, 2011
When judging nutritional aspects of foods, perceivers tend to overgeneralize from one "healthy" nutrition claim (e.g., "no cholesterol") by assuming that foods feature other healthy attributes as well (e.g., low in fat). This finding has been discussed in terms of the classic halo effect in person perception, whereby impressions from strongly valenced attributes (e.g., social warmth) evoke similarly valenced evaluations of the target person on other attributes (e.g., sociability). Despite their popularity and health associations, scant research has explored whether claims like "organic" and "fair trade"---known as values-based claims---can similarly bias judgment. This dissertation explores this possibility. Specifically, despite being silent on nutrient content, values-based claims and other ethics-related production qualities (e.g., favorable worker treatment) are expected to promote unwarranted health inferences (e.g., reduced calorie estimates), especially when these qualities are personally relevant (i.e., strongly congruent or incongruent with perceivers' personal values). Five experimental studies find support for this prediction. Describing cookies as "organic" decreases calorie judgments and thereby increases consumption recommendations, an effect that is larger among the pro-environmental (Studies 1 and 2). Extending to the social ethics domain, describing chocolate as "fair-trade" decreases calorie judgments; moreover, socially unethical production increases calorie judgments, among perceivers reporting high ethical food values (Studies 3 and 4). Exploring effects on downstream choice outcomes, exercise is deemed less important after a person chooses "organic" over conventional dessert, an effect that correlates positively with pro-environmentalism (Study 5). Overall, larger bias was observed among perceivers with strongly congruent (or incongruent) personal values, or those who likely felt especially positively (or negatively) toward the focal qualities, consistent with the logic of halo effects. Amid the ongoing obesity crisis, these findings reveal ethical health halos that lead perceivers to see nutritionally poor but ethically produced foods as healthy. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed
School code: 0127
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 72-12B
Subject Business Administration, Marketing
Psychology, Social
Health Sciences, Nutrition
Alt Author University of Michigan
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