Doctoral Dissertation Research in DRMS: Fractioning Choice under Temptation: Can "Attribute Distortion" be the missing link in the Temptation-Choice tandem?
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Calorie labeling rules requiring restaurants to visibly display the calorie content of food products are intended to provide consumers with the information they need to choose wisely. However, evidence is at best mixed as to whether labeling has led to a decrease in calorie intake. The lack of clear evidence regarding the effectiveness of food labels suggests that that food-related decision-making is more complex than envisioned and that simply providing information about healthy and non-healthy food products may turn out not to be adequate to promote healthy eating. In this Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, the co-PI explores that possibility that healthy food choices are difficult because calorie dense foods induce temptation. Temptation, in turn, distorts the perceived values of attributes of different food alternatives in such a way as to favor less healthy options. The project also explores different solutions to the problem temptation poses in food decisions, such as developing appropriate commitment methods. The results of the project will enrich decision science and consumer research by improving theory and applying novel analysis methods to consumer decision making. The broader impacts will be provision of new insights to policy makers about possible ways of increasing the effectiveness of future public health related laws and improvement in public welfare through increasing our understanding of individual decision making. The fundamental premise of the research to be undertaken is that temptation affects choice behavior through attribute distortion. Five experimental studies are designed to systematically analyze the role of temptation induced attribute distortion on choice. The first study examines food choice through the lens of a "Temptation-Choice" model where decisions under temptation involve an attribute distortion phenomenon. The second study explores the impact that findings on commitment in psychology have in the context of the "Temptation-Choice" model. The third experiment explores the relationship between temptation and attribute distortion based on the predictions of the dual-self models. The fourth and fifth studies examine the influence different types of distraction have on peoples' ability to exercise self-control in the face of temptation.