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.
- limited-resource account
- ego depletion
- strength model
- food choices
Salmon, S. J., de Vet, E., Adriaanse, M. A., Fennis, B. M., Veltkamp, M., & de Ridder, D. T. D. (2015). Social proof in the supermarket: Promoting healthy choices under low self-control conditions. Food Quality and Preference, 45, 113-120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2015.06.004