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Trigger Foods: The Influence of “Irrelevant†Alternatives in School Lunchrooms

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  • Hanks, Andrew S.
  • Just, David R.
  • Wansink, Brian

Abstract

Rational choice theory commonly assumes that the presence of unselected choices cannot impact which among the remaining choices is selected—-often referred to as “independence of irrelevant alternatives.†We show that such seemingly irrelevant alternatives influence choice in a school lunch setting. In these lunchrooms, we provide evidence that the presence of specific side dishes-—trigger foods-—can strongly increase the sales of unhealthy à la carte options, even when the trigger foods are not selected. This behavioral anomaly can be exploited to lead children to healthier choices. We also offer a method that can be used to identify such foods.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/123318
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association in its journal Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.

Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:ags:arerjl:123318

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Web page: http://www.narea.org/
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Related research

Keywords: independence of irrelevant alternatives; linear probability model; child nutrition programs; food selection; Ã la carte item; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy; Institutional and Behavioral Economics;

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  1. Klemens Knoferle & Eric Spangenberg & Andreas Herrmann & Jan Landwehr, 2012. "It is all in the mix: The interactive effect of music tempo and mode on in-store sales," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 325-337, March.
  2. Mullahy, John, 1990. "Weighted least squares estimation of the linear probability model, revisited," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-41, January.
  3. Massara, Francesco & Liu, Sandra S. & Melara, Robert D., 2010. "Adapting to a retail environment: Modeling consumer-environment interactions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(7), pages 673-681, July.
  4. West, Sarah E., 2004. "Distributional effects of alternative vehicle pollution control policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 735-757, March.
  5. Turley, L. W. & Milliman, Ronald E., 2000. "Atmospheric Effects on Shopping Behavior: A Review of the Experimental Evidence," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 193-211, August.
  6. Horrace, William C. & Oaxaca, Ronald L., 2006. "Results on the bias and inconsistency of ordinary least squares for the linear probability model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 321-327, March.
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