If it’s useful and you know it, Do you eat? Preschoolers refrain from instrumental food

Michal Maimaran*, Ayelet Fishbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Marketers, educators, and caregivers often refer to instrumental benefits to convince preschoolers to eat (e.g., “This food will make you strong”). We propose that preschoolers infer that if food is instrumental to achieve a goal, it is less tasty, and therefore they consume less of it. Accordingly, we find that preschoolers (3–5.5 years old) rated crackers as less tasty and consumed fewer of them when the crackers were presented as instrumental to achieving a health goal (studies 1–2). In addition, preschoolers consumed fewer carrots and crackers when these were presented as instrumental to knowing how to read (study 3) and to count (studies 4–5). This research supports an inference account for the negative impact of certain persuasive messages on consumption: preschoolers who are exposed to one association (e.g., between eating carrots and intellectual performance) infer another association (e.g., between carrots and taste) must be weaker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-655
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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