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Darren Dahl (Editor in Chief)Eileen FischerGita JoharVicki Morwitz

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Healthy Diets Make Empty Wallets: The Healthy = Expensive Intuition

Kelly L. Haws, Rebecca Walker Reczek, Kevin L. Sample
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucw078 ucw078 First published online: 12 January 2017

Abstract

Understanding consumer decision making about what to eat is both complex—as multiple factors can drive food choice—and important, as food choice impacts overall health. This research examines an intuition at the crossroads of two important criteria for food decision making—healthiness and price—finding that consumers believe that healthier food is more expensive than less healthy food. While this relationship may be accurate in some cases, consumers overgeneralize this belief to contexts and product categories where it is not objectively true. As a result, the healthy = expensive intuition influences consumer decision by impacting inferences of missing attributes and choice between alternatives. Further, consistent with dual process models, the intuition acts as a bias in shaping how consumers process information about health and price when consumers are processing heuristically, including altering both perceptions of how “healthy” a given ingredient is as a function of product price and the amount of information search consumers engage in when evaluating health claims, such that consumers have a higher standard of evidence when evaluating intuition-inconsistent claims. Overall, the healthy = expensive intuition has a powerful influence on consumer decision making, with significant implications for both consumers and marketers.

  • healthiness
  • food decision making
  • price
  • intuition
  • lay theory
  • dual process models

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