The Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition and Its Effects on Taste Inferences, Enjoyment, and Choice of Food Products

Rajagopal Raghunathan, The University of Texas at Austin
Rebecca Naylor, University of South Carolina
Wayne Hoyer, The University of Texas at Austin
We find, across four experiments, that when information pertaining to assessing the healthiness of food items is provided, the less healthy the item is portrayed to be: (1) the better its inferred taste, (2) the more it is enjoyed during actual consumption, and (3) the greater the preference for it in choice tasks when a hedonic goal is more (vs. less) salient. We find that these effects are obtained both among consumers who report believing that healthiness and tastiness are negatively correlated and, albeit to a lesser degree, among those who do not report such a belief. We also provide evidence that the association between “unhealthy” and “tasty” operates at an implicit level. Possibilities for controlling the effect of the unhealthy = tasty intuition (and its potential for causing negative health problems) are discussed, including: (1) controlling the volume of unhealthy but tasty food eaten, (2) changing unhealthy foods to make them less unhealthy but still tasty, and (3) providing consumers with better information about what constitutes “healthy.”
[ to cite ]:
Rajagopal Raghunathan, Rebecca Naylor, and Wayne Hoyer (2007) ,"The Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition and Its Effects on Taste Inferences, Enjoyment, and Choice of Food Products", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 349-400.