Social norms and rank-based nudging: Changing willingness to pay for healthy food



Aldrovandi S, Brown GDA & Wood AM (2015) Social norms and rank-based nudging: Changing willingness to pay for healthy food. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 21 (3), pp. 242-254.

People's evaluations in the domain of healthy eating are at least partly determined by the choice context. We systematically test reference level and rank-based models of relative comparisons against each other and explore their application to social norms nudging, an intervention that aims at influencing consumers' behavior by addressing their inaccurate beliefs about their consumption relative to the consumption of others. Study 1 finds that the rank of a product or behavior among others in the immediate comparison context, rather than its objective attributes, influences its evaluation. Study 2 finds that when a comparator is presented in isolation the same rank-based process occurs based on information retrieved from memory. Study 3 finds that telling people how their consumption ranks within a normative comparison sample increases willingness to pay for a healthy food by over 30% relative to the normal social norms intervention that tells them how they compare to the average. We conclude that social norms interventions should present rank information (e.g., "you are in the most unhealthy 10% of eaters") rather than information relative to the average (e.g., "you consume 500 calories more than the average person"). © 2015 American Psychological Association.

food perception; healthy eating; decision by sampling; range frequency theory; social norms marketing

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied: Volume 21, Issue 3

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online25/05/2015
Date accepted by journal08/04/2015
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association

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