A researcher at the University of Southern California published a new paper that suggests whether tempting food may make consumers feel healthier.
The forthcoming study in the Journal of Marketing is titled “Pretty Healthy Food: How and When Aesthetics Enhance Person’s Healthness” and is written by Linda Hagen.
Consumers see about 7,000 food and restaurant advertisements every year, most of which exploit fast food. In marketing materials, food is extensively styled to look particularly beautiful. Imagine the pretty pizza that you can see on the billboard – a perfect circle of crust with flawlessly allotted pepperoni and melted cheese. Advertisers clearly aim to make food more delicious. But is the aesthetic in other, potentially problematic, effects on its impressions of food?
On the one hand, scenic aesthetics is closely associated with pleasure and indulgence. Seeing beautiful art and people activate the reward center of the brain and beholding beauty is naturally gratifying. This link with happiness can make a very good meal feel unhealthy because people see happiness and utility mutually exclusive. For example, many people have a common understanding that food is tasty or healthy, but not both.
On the other hand, a specific type of aesthetics called “classical” aesthetics is characterized by ideal patterns found in nature. For example, a major classical aesthetic feature is symmetry, which is also very common in nature. Another major classical aesthetic feature includes order and orderly patterns which, again, are ubiquitous in nature. It is possible that overeating visual characteristics such as these nature can make the depiction of food feel more natural. Feeling more natural, in turn, can make food healthier because people consider natural things (eg, organic food or natural remedies) healthier than unnatural things (eg, highly processed food or synthetic chemicals). Therefore, depending on reflecting nature, the same food may seem healthier when compared to when it is beautiful (when it is ugly).
In a series of experiments, the researcher tested whether the same food is considered healthy when following the same aesthetics principles (i.e., symmetry, order, and systematic patterns) when it does not do so. For example, in one experiment, participants evaluated avocado toast. Everyone reads the same ingredient and price information, but people were randomly assigned to see either a beautiful avocado toast or an ugly avocado toast (pictures were previously rated, on average, as differences ). Despite similar information about food, respondents rated avocado toast as overall healthier (eg, healthier, more nutritious, fewer calories) and more natural (eg, pure, less processed) if they were of the ugly version Compared to the beautiful version. As suspected, the difference in naturalistic judgments eliminated differences in healthiness judgments. Decisions of other aspects such as freshness or size were unaffected. Experiments with different foods and pretreatment manipulations returned the same pattern of results, suggesting that the effect is not impossible for some photographs.
Crucially, these health decisions affect consumer behavior. In a field experiment, people were prepared to pay significantly more money for a beautiful bell pepper than an ugly one, and a large part of this increase in reservation prices was due to a slight increase in health-related decisions. In another study, even when people had financial incentives to correctly identify the correct calories from two foods, they would be more likely to declare a target meal to be a low-calorie option Were when it was beautiful compared to being ugly – even though this choice made them lose money.
There are some major qualifications. First, the beautiful = healthy effect is limited to classical aesthetics. The “expressive” aesthetics do not include nature-like patterns, but instead through imaginative execution of creative ideas, such as food cut into funny shapes or arranged to depict a scene. Second, the beautiful = healthy bias can be silenced by displaying a disclaimer next to the food that reminds people that the food was artificially modified.
This effect of classical aesthetic principles has implications for marketers and public health advocates, even if different. Hagen states that “classical aesthetics can be an expensive and subtle new way to express naturalness and wellness – a feature that consumers increasingly demand in food products. At the same time, beautiful food renders nutritional projections May distort and negatively affect dietary decisions. Given these findings, policy-makers seek to consider amendment disclaimers as an intervention or rules around providing objective nutrition information with images Can strengthen. ”
(This story is published from a wire agency feed without textual modifications.)
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