Journal of Marketing Behavior > Vol 2 > Issue 1

"Is This Food Healthy?": The Contextual Influence of Prior Foods on Healthiness Perceptions

Scott W. Davis, Rice University, USA, , Kelly L. Haws, Vanderbilt University, USA, , Joseph P. Redden, University of Minnesota, USA,
Suggested Citation
Scott W. Davis, Kelly L. Haws and Joseph P. Redden (2016), ""Is This Food Healthy?": The Contextual Influence of Prior Foods on Healthiness Perceptions", Journal of Marketing Behavior: Vol. 2: No. 1, pp 1-17.

Publication Date: 19 Oct 2016
© 2016 S. W. Davis, K. L. Haws, and J. P. Redden
Consumer Behavior
Consumer behavior


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In this article:
Food Perceptions and Self-Control 
Context Effects in Food Perceptions 
Study 1 
Study 2 
Study 3 
General Discussion 


Perceptions of a food's healthiness are a critical input to consumers' decision making about what to eat, and therefore understanding factors that influence these healthiness perceptions are important. We examine the role of prior exposure to other foods in impacting healthiness perceptions. We propose and find that the healthiness of foods previously encountered can influence healthiness perceptions and consumption intentions for ambiguously healthy snacks, and importantly, this influence differs based on one's self-control. Consumers who encounter a healthy food first tend to assimilate healthiness judgments and indicate increased consumption for subsequent, ambiguous foods when their personal self-control is low. This influence of prior healthy foods has implications for consumers and public policymakers since foods are often presented alongside other healthy foods (e.g., in the same grocery store aisle or on the same restaurant menu). Our work establishes the relationship between previously encountered foods and trait self-control as a driver of subsequent healthiness perceptions, and we expect that future work can further explore these patterns.