Pizza or Salad? In a new study scientists have shed light on how decision frames influence people’s food orders.
In ‘To Choose or to Reject: The Effect of Decision Frame on Food Customization Decisions,’ by Senior Lecturers Anish Nagpal and Jing Lei, of the University of Melbourne, along with Professor Adwait Khare, of the University of Texas, explore the mechanism of choice and rejection as customers design and select their food orders.
The authors conducted several experiments with university students who were unaware of the objective of the study. They wanted to know whether people would end up with overall healthier selections either when choosing food elements in an a la carte situation or when rejecting items from a pre-prepared set of options.
The results show that an individual’s decision frame influences the relative number of healthy versus unhealthy items included in the food they order, and that this influence is further contingent on the nature of the food to be customised – e.g., “healthy” salad or “unhealthy” pizza.
The authors concluded, the research demonstrated that food preference was quite malleable. Managers of food retailers could influence customers’ preference for products with tasty and/or healthy features by offering the option to build up or pare down their selections.
The study is due to be published in the Journal of Retailing.