Social proof in the supermarket: Promoting healthy choices under low self-control conditions

S.J. Salmon, E. de Vet, M.A. Adriaanse, B.M. Fennis, M. Veltkamp, D.T.D. de Ridder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Under low self-control conditions, people often favor tempting but unhealthy food products. Instead of fighting against low self-control to reduce unhealthy food choices, we aim to demonstrate in a field study that heuristic decision tendencies can be exploited under these conditions. To do so a healthy product was associated with a social proof heuristic, referring to the tendency to adopt the option preferred by others. A healthy low-fat cheese was promoted with banners stating it was the most sold cheese in that supermarket. A state of low self-control was experimentally induced in the supermarket, and compared to a high self-control condition. Participants low in self-control were more likely to buy the low-fat cheese, when this product was associated with the social proof heuristic, compared to when it was not. This suggests that under low self-control conditions, presenting social proof cues may benefit healthy purchases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-120
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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