Consumer familiarity with foods and the perception of risks and benefits

A.R.H. Fischer, L.J. Frewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Differences in familiarity with food products may influence how information about the risks and benefits about foods is used in forming risk and benefit perceptions. In two experimental studies, the risk and benefit perceptions of student participants, for four foods (familiar or unfamiliar) were assessed. In experiment 1, participants had the option to voluntarily request information (N = 106). In experiment 2, participants were involuntarily exposed to varying amounts of risk and benefit information (N = 235). In the first experiment, risk and benefit perceptions for unfamiliar foods were the result of an ad hoc affect or attitude being formed from whatever information about a food was presented first. The second experiment confirmed these results. The asymmetry between risk and benefit perception can be understood in terms of prior attitude and primacy effects. The greater importance of risk information in the development of risk perception is shown, compared to the greater importance role of familiarity with foods for benefit perception. It is argued that risk and benefit perceptions associated with foods may be dependent on different psychological processes. Risk perception is more likely to be derived from deliberative information processing. Benefit perception is derived from heuristic information processing and personal experience
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-585
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • genetically-modified foods
  • resisting persuasion
  • attitude certainty
  • selective exposure
  • perceived benefits
  • fish consumption
  • information
  • trust
  • behavior
  • health

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