The Framing of Portion Sizes: It's Not the Size that Counts, But the Name
27 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2016
Date Written: May 20, 2010
The food industry often uses normative labels such as “Large,” “Super-size,” or “Family-size” to describe their portion size offerings. Are these superficial labels evidence of firms using framing effects or loss aversion to impact choice behavior? A first field experiment shows consumer willingness-to-pay was inconsistent with loss aversion. Even though the food was clearly visible, individuals appeared to use the labels as objective information about their size. To further examine this, a second experiment measured plate waste, showing people leave more food uneaten when a constant-sized portion is labeled as being larger. If labels are used as objective size information, policies governing normative names could help reduce food consumption.
Keywords: labeling, portion size, loss aversion, framing effects, consumer behavior, obesity, food consumption
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