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Food Psychology and Overeating Professor Brian Wansink Food & Brand Lab -- Director Cornell University. Who? 6 Profs from 5 depts 7 graduate students Hidden camera observation lab 2 restaurants; 1 snack room A 3400 person national consumer mail panel 5 cooperating stores. How?

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Food Psychology and Overeating Professor Brian Wansink Food & Brand Lab -- Director Cornell University

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Food psychology and overeating professor brian wansink food brand lab director cornell university l.jpg

Food Psychology and Overeating

Professor Brian Wansink

Food & Brand Lab -- Director

Cornell University


We examine the whys behind what consumers eat l.jpg

Who?

6 Profs from 5 depts

7 graduate students

Hidden camera observation lab

2 restaurants; 1 snack room

A 3400 person national consumer mail panel

5 cooperating stores

How?

Lab experiments

Field studies

Consumer panels

Data-base mining

In-depth interviews

“Hidden” In-kitchen cameras

Since 1990 . . .

115 studies

43 referred journal articles

1 book (& 1 forthcoming)

70% focuses on consumption

volume & frequency

We Examine the“Whys” Behind What Consumers Eat

Marketing

Nutrition

2004-Brian Wansink

U of Illinois Press

New


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What Unknowingly Influences Consumption?

  • There Might be Systematic Explanations

    • Step 1. Uncovering the Systematic Biases

    • Step 2. Explaining these Biases

  • Consider a Shopping Related Warm-up Example


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Warm-up Shopping Example:Why Do We Buy Too Many?

  • Which Sign Sells More . . .

    • Limit 12/personvs. No Limit/person

    • 3 for $3.00vs.1 for $1.00

    • Buy 18 for the weekendvs.Buy some for the weekend


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Why Do We Buy Too Many?

  • We focus on what to buy

    . . . not how many

  • We are highly suggestible to numerical signs

    • We anchor on their numbers and adjust our purchase from there

    • Examples: 12 per person 3 for 99¢Buy 6 for snacks

    • We say, “I usually buy 1 or 2, but . . .”

    • Numerical signs can end up doubling how much we buy

  • “Oh, but that never happens to me . . .”


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Two Topics for Today . . .

1. How the Size and Shape of Containers Influence Consumption

2. Taste Suggestibility


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Beware of the Size and Shape of Containers

  • General Finding About Package Size . . .

  • Study 1. Hungry for Stale Movie Popcorn?

  • Study 2. Do Shapes Bias Consumption?

  • Study 3. The Philadelphia Bartender Study

  • Study 4. How about a Different Form of Fat?


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Package Size Increases Consumption

  • People who pour from larger containers eat more than those pouring from small

    • Consistent across 47 of 48 categories

    • Obviously, up to a point

    • Mediated by price per unit (R2= only 23%)

  • Additional rationale . . .

    • There are no concerns of “running out”

    • More difficult to monitor

  • Criticism -->This only applies to hedonic or tasty foods. For instance, the effects would be less for unliked foods.

General Finding:

Package Size Can

Double Consumption


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1. Hungry for Some Stale Movie Popcorn?

  • General Question

    • Does food quality moderate?

    • Any interesting gender effects?

  • The Field Study (Chicago, IL)

    • Movie was Mel Gibson in “Payback”

    • Free popcorn (“Illinois History Week”)

    • 2x2 Design

      • Large vs. X-Large Popcorn (pre-weighed)

      • Fresh vs. 10-day-old Popcorn

    • After the movie, ask questions & weighed popcorn


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We Eat Much More from Big Containers

Grams Eaten

  • People eat 45-50% more from extra-large popcorn containers than large ones

  • They still eat 40-45% more with stale popcorn


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2. Do Serving Container Shapes Bias Consumption?

  • Piaget’s Conservation of Volume

    • Kids think tall vessels hold more than wide vessels

    • They fixate on 1 dominate dimension (height)

  • This should influence the consumption

    • If tall glasses are thought to hold more . . .

      • They should over-pour in to short wide glasses

      • But they should believe they under-poured


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2. Do Serving Container Shapes Bias Consumption?

  • 133 adolescentsat a “Nutrition & Fitness Camp” in NH

  • Cafeteria at breakfast time

    • Each was randomly given one glass when arriving

    • Tall narrow juice glass or a Short wide juice glass

  • After exiting the line . . .

    • Asked some usage & perception questions

    • Usage volume was weighed


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Yes . . . Container Sizes and Shapes Bias Usage Volume

  • These vigilant “weight watchers” poured 88% more into short wide glasses, but believed they poured less

  • Also true with adults

    (Jazz camp musicians in Westfield, MA)

  • Hmmm . . . does this still happen with experts and a specific target volume (say 1.5 oz)?

Ounces of Juice


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48 Philadelphia bartenders

Paid $4 to be involved in a study on “consumers”

Given 4 tall, slender (highball) glasses or 4 short, wide (tumbler) glasses

Given 4 full 1500 ml bottles and asked to pour …

Split in to . . .

Less than 5 years experience

More than 5 years experience

Pour gin for gin & tonic

Pour rum for rum & Coke

Pour vodka for vodka tonic

Pour whiskey for whiskey/rocks

3. Do Peripheral Cues Influence Experts with Precise Target Volumes?

Highball

Glass

Tumbler


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“When in Philadelphia, Should I Ask for a Tumbler or a Highball Glass?”

  • Bartenders poured 28% more alcohol into tumblers than highball glasses

  • Experience doesn’t eliminate bias

  • So, as a responsible bartender . . .

    • Etch pouring marks on glasses

    • Use highball glasses


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Is Olive Oil Healthier than Butter?

Not if people over-pour.. .

But do they?

Two Italian restaurants: Champaign, IL

People randomly given butter or olive oil

Secretly video-taped

Coded by mystery diners

Two measures . . .

How much fat was eaten (oil or butter)

How much bread was eaten

4. Does the Form (or type) of Fat Influence its Consumption Volume?


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People Ate More Olive Oil per Slice, But They Ate Fewer Slices of Bread

  • They ate 16% more fat/slice

  • They ate 19% less bread

  • A total calorie punch-line

    • Don’t focus only on target foods

    • Focus also on companion foods

I knew that


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II. Can Labels Change the Taste of Foods?

  • Study 1. The Curse of “Soy Inside”

  • Study 2.. Descriptive Labels in the Cafeteria

Now with Soy


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1. The Curse of “Soy Inside”

  • Can Labels make us taste what we believe we will taste?

    • To the untrained palate, taste can be subjective

    • Labels might provide the Power-of-Suggestion

  • Phantom Ingredient Test

  • Two Identical PowerBars

    • One says “contains 10 grams of soy protein”

    • One says “contains 10 grams of protein”

  • Taste This New Product

    • 70 adults taste and rate “soy” label

    • 70 adults taste and rate “----” label

Now with Soy


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Sensory Suggestive Words

Now with Soy

  • Phantom Ingredient Test

    • Exact same PowerBar

    • No soy in them

  • “Bad News”

    • People “taste” the non-existent soy and rate it low

  • “Good News”

    • They think it’s healthy

      (but they still hate it)

    • Differences across segments


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How Suggestive is Our Palate?

Goal: Improve perception of cafeteria food?

Descriptive vs. non-descriptive labels

Six week field study -- six products; rotated labels

Self-selected -- evaluations after dining

Will there be a Benefit or a Backfire?

Benefit --> Wow . . . I feel like I’m in Brussels!

Backfire --> I’m disappointed …this is dry chocolate cake

Seafood filet

Chocolate Cake

Succulent Italian

Seafood filet

Belgium Black Forest Chocolate Cake

3. Sensory Suggestiveness: Descriptive Labels in the Cafeteria


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“Well, I know what I like” --> Maybe Not

  • People evaluate descriptive foods as more favorable

    • Better taste, better texture, but as having more calories

  • Caveats

    • All foods were of acceptable quality

      • Assimilating NOT contrasting

    • Self-selection (vs. realism)

  • Next steps

    • Finding the point of reversal

    • Moving this into the home . . .


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Thank You . . .

Professor Brian Wansink

Food & Brand Lab -- Director

Cornell University


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Professor Brian Wansink

Food & Brand Lab

350 Wholers Hall

University of Illinois

Champaign, IL 61820

217-244-0208

[email protected]

Www.ConsumerPsychology.com


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