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Which Consumers Are Most Responsive to Media-Induced Food Scares?


  • Payne, Collin R.
  • Messer, Kent D.
  • Kaiser, Harry M.


In understanding decreases in demand after exposure to media-induced food scares, aggregate data are almost exclusively presented without taking into consideration potential confounding variables. However, a better approach may be to use an experimental design coupled with targeting homogeneous willingness-to-pay (WTP) subgroups based on similarities in behavioral, psychological, and demographic characteristics of those who are most vulnerable to food scare information. This is accomplished through experimental economics and an analysis strategy called a classification and regression tree (CART). A stigma framework—which guides conceptual understanding of effects of media-induced food scares—suggests controlling contextual variables to better approximate ceteris paribus. To this end, we conducted an experiment that exposed people to information about mad cow disease and then asked them to bid their willingness-to-pay for an actual hamburger. The CART found distinct homogeneous WTP subgroups of individuals that could be used by government and industry professionals to create interventions to reduce potential consumer concern and producer losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Payne, Collin R. & Messer, Kent D. & Kaiser, Harry M., 2009. "Which Consumers Are Most Responsive to Media-Induced Food Scares?," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 38(3), December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:arerjl:59231

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lusk, Jayson L. & Daniel, M. Scott & Mark, Darrell R. & Lusk, Christine L., 2001. "Alternative Calibration And Auction Institutions For Predicting Consumer Willingess To Pay For Nongenetically Modified Corn Chips," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 26(01), July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lagerkvist, Carl Johan & Hess, Sebastian & Ngigi, Marther W. & Okello, Julius Juma, 2011. "Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Food Safety in Nairobi: The Case of Fresh Vegetables," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114409, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Yadavalli, Anita & Jones, Keithly, 2014. "Does media influence consumer demand? The case of lean finely textured beef in the United States," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(P1), pages 219-227.


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