We are What We Consume: The Influence of Food Consumption on Impulsive Choice
Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming
32 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 1, 2009
Impulsive choice exhibited by consumers has been traditionally attributed to either contextual factors such as product attributes, store environment, or an individual’s personality traits. In this paper, the authors find that type of food consumed can also influence impulsive choice. Specifically, food that enhances the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, can reduce impulsive choice. To test the hypotheses on the influence of serotonin on post-consumption impulsive choice, the authors collected data on the eve of Thanksgiving. The occasion of Thanksgiving dinner provided a naturalistic setting in which people consumed a tryptophan-rich meal (tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin). The authors replicated these findings and obtained converging evidence in a lab setting in which some participants were provided with a tryptophan-rich beverage and their post-consumption impulsive choices were observed.
Keywords: serotonin, impulsivity, food-consumption, impulsive choice, tryptophan, Go/no-go, consumer behavior
JEL Classification: M30, M31, C91, C93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation