When Is a Salad Not a Salad? the Impact of Product Category on Perceived Nutritional Value

The results of four studies demonstrate that when identical food items are presented as members of relatively healthy categories (e.g., salad), compared to less healthy categories (e.g., pasta), they are rated as more nutritious and, as a result, are consumed in greater quantities by nutrition experts. These results are explained by the fact that experts (vs. novices) are more likely to rely on category-based heuristics when evaluating products. This research contributes to the emerging body of literature that examines health halos by showing that product category – which might be provided by simple information such as the product name – can drive consumer perceptions of food items as well as resultant eating behavior.


Caglar Irmak and Beth Vallen (2009) ,"When Is a Salad Not a Salad? the Impact of Product Category on Perceived Nutritional Value", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 645-645.


Caglar Irmak, University of South Carolina, USA
Beth Vallen, Loyola College in Maryland, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36 | 2009

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


E1. Effects of Recipients’ Emotional Expressions on Donors’ Preference for Helping with Development versus Survival

Xue Wang, University of Hong Kong
He (Michael) Jia, University of Hong Kong
Sara Kim, University of Hong Kong

Read More


C10. Beyond Self-control: A Field Exploration of the Interactive Effect between Cue-induced and Prospective Decision Making on Long-term Weight Loss

Wanyu Li, McGill University, Canada
Laurette Dube, McGill University, Canada
Yu Ma, McGill University, Canada

Read More


The Psychology of Fun: Inquiry into Consumers' Fun Experiences

Travis Tae Oh, Columbia University, USA
Michel Tuan Pham, Columbia University, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.