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An (un) healthy poster: When environmental cues affect consumers’ food choices at vending machines

By Sabrina Stöckli, Aline Stämpfli, Claude Messner and Thomas A. Brunner


Environmental cues can affect food decisions. There is growing evidence that environmental cues influence how much one consumes. This article demonstrates that environmental cues can similarly impact the healthiness of consumers’ food choices. Two field studies examined this effect with consumers of vending machine foods who were exposed to different posters. In field study 1, consumers with a health-evoking nature poster compared to a pleasure-evoking fun fair poster or no poster in their visual sight were more likely to opt for healthy snacks. Consumers were also more likely to buy healthy snacks when primed by an activity poster than when exposed to the fun fair poster. In field study 2, this consumer pattern recurred with a poster of skinny Giacometti sculptures. Overall, the results extend the mainly laboratory-based evidence by demonstrating the health-relevant impact of environmental cues on food decisions in the field. Results are discussed in light of priming literature emphasizing the relevance of preexisting associations, mental concepts and goals

Topics: 650 Management & public relations, 610 Medicine & health
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.034
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