Predicting framing susceptibility in health decisions through dual process and numeracy theories
Type of DegreeDissertation
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Multiple times per day individuals are faced with deciding what foods to consume and how much of these foods to consume. For most of us, the food decisions we make have direct implications on our health and weight. In the U.S. the health and weight status of the populous is a mounting concern and more than half of the citizens are now characterized as overweight or obese. The current studies sought to better understand what factors contribute to dietary decision making in order to better understand this problematic trend of obesity. In two studies, the way in which nutrition information (calories) was presented was altered to investigate whether different presentation formats influence participants’ willingness to eat various foods. Further, several self-report measures were obtained to get a more comprehensive view of factors influencing eating behavior. It was expected that participants’ willingness to eat various foods would vary based on the way the nutrition information was presented, with individuals demonstrating what is known as the framing bias. Some individuals have been found more susceptible to the framing bias, including those that are low in cognitive reflection and those low in numeracy abilities. In the current studies, participants’ low cognitive reflection and numeracy did not appear vulnerable to the framing manipulations; however, participants low in confidence to resist eating high calorie foods did appear prone to differences in preferences due to framing. Furthermore, several self-report measures provided additional insight into important factors individuals’ value when making dietary selections, such as price, convenience, and the natural content of their foods. In sum, the current studies provide evidence of factors influencing eating behavior and indicate subsets of the population who may be prone to differences due to the framing of calorie information.