Thursday, April 11, 2013

Keta Rae Paulson's dissertation on, "The Impact of the Visual Display of Information on Real-Time Food Choice: Will Simpler Make it Better?"

Keta Rae Paulson, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study explored the impact of the visual display of information on consumer choice. Participants (N =126, age > 24) completed a 31-question survey that included six choices of food items in pairs: one healthy and one less healthy item of the same type. Participants were randomly assigned to either a simple Traffic Light Label (TLL) or a complex Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) condition.

Healthy Food Scores were calculated from food choices by giving 2 points for a healthy choice and 1 point for a less healthy choice. Results showed that participants who used nutrition labels more frequently when grocery shopping had higher Healthy Food Scores than those who used nutrition labels less frequently. Also, a mediation analysis showed that Exercise Days indirectly impacted Healthy Food Scores through Label Use Frequency.

This data suggest that familiarity with a particular display of information impacts choice more than complexity of design. Further research on the visual display of information should focus on novel displays or include equal samples of participants who use a particular display with varied frequency.

Keywords: Information display, Nutrition Labeling, Cognitive Psychology, Choice Behavior, Exercise Days, Nutrition

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