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Darren Dahl (Editor in Chief)Eileen FischerGita JoharVicki Morwitz

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“Why My Mother Never Threw Anything Out”: The Effect of Product Freshness on Consumption

Sankar Sen, Lauren G. Block
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/596027 47-55 First published online: 1 June 2009


This research focuses on a pervasive but largely unexamined product attribute—freshness date—to shed light on how and why its influence on the consumption of perishable products changes with product ownership. Drawing on recent research on the endowment effect, we demonstrate that even when the differential costs implicit in ownership are controlled for, consumers are more likely to actually consume a product past its freshness date when they own it than when they do not. Moreover, this ownership-based increase in consumption is accompanied by lower estimates by consumers of their likelihood of getting sick from consuming the product past its freshness date. These outcomes are driven, in turn, by consumers' ownership-based susceptibility to engage in selective and confirmatory testing of the hypothesis that the product past its freshness date is consumption worthy (i.e., approach goal) rather than the alternate, default hypothesis that it is not consumption worthy (i.e., avoidance goal).

  • Cognitive Processes
  • Health, Nutrition, Safety
  • Motivation/Desires/Goals
  • Packaging
  • Perceived Risk
  • Experimental Design and Analysis (ANOVA)
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