Sweet taste of prosocial status signaling : When eating organic foods makes you happy and hopeful

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Puska , P , Kurki , S , Lähdesmäki , M , Siltaoja , M & Luomala , H 2018 , ' Sweet taste of prosocial status signaling : When eating organic foods makes you happy and hopeful ' , Appetite , vol. 121 , pp. 348-359 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.11.102

Title: Sweet taste of prosocial status signaling : When eating organic foods makes you happy and hopeful
Author: Puska, Petteri; Kurki, Sami; Lähdesmäki, Merja; Siltaoja, Marjo; Luomala, Harri
Contributor organization: Ruralia Institute, Seinäjoki
Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
Date: 2018-02-01
Language: eng
Number of pages: 12
Belongs to series: Appetite
ISSN: 0195-6663
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.11.102
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/321625
Abstract: As the current research suggests that there are links between prosocial acts and status signaling (including sustainable consumer choices), we empirically study (with three experiments) whether food consumers go green to be seen. First, we examine how activating a motive for status influences prosocial organic food preferences. Then, we examine how the social visibility of the choice (private vs. public) affects these preferences. We found that when consumers' desire for status was elicited, they preferred organic food products significantly over their nonorganic counterparts; making the choice situation visible created the same effect. Finally, we go beyond consumers' evaluative and behavioral domains that have typically been addressed to investigate whether this (nonconscious) "going green to be seen" effect is also evident at the level of more physiologically-driven food responses. Indeed, status motives and reputational concerns created an improved senso-emotional experience of organic food. Specifically, when consumers were led to believe that they have to share their organic food taste experiences with others, an elevation could be detected not only in the pleasantness ratings but also in how joyful and hopeful they felt after eating a food sample. We claim that the reason for this is that a tendency to favor organic foods can be viewed as a costly signaling trait, leading to flaunting about one's prosocial tendencies. According to these findings, highlighting socially disapproved consumption motives, such as reputation management, may be an effective way to increase the relatively low sales of organic foods and thereby promote sustainable consumer behavior. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Subject: Organic food
Prosocial signaling
Motivational priming
Senso-emotional experience
Nonconscious behavior
416 Food Science
515 Psychology
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by_nc_nd
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: acceptedVersion

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