Evolving Health Guidelines: How Do Consumers Fare While Science Marches On?

Christine Moorman, Duke University
Mary Frances Luce, Duke University
James R. Bettman, Duke University
The press is replete with guidelines regarding preventive behaviors, such as exercise, vitamins, or food choices. Such guidelines may have unintended negative effects on consumers if later reversed. We report a study examining the effect of evolving health guidelines on consumers’ initial response and critical “spillover” outcomes—consumers’ faith in health guidelines in general and consumers’ intention to perform related health behaviors not part of the guideline. We find that a guideline change from taking an action to inaction increases negative spillovers, consistent with omission bias and betrayal aversion. A follow-up experiment with policy implications for mitigating this undesired backlash will also be reported.
[ to cite ]:
Christine Moorman, Mary Frances Luce, and James R. Bettman (2008) ,"Evolving Health Guidelines: How Do Consumers Fare While Science Marches On?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 117-121.