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Additivity dominance: Additives are more potent and more often lexicalized across languages than are ``subtractives''

  • Paul Rozin
  • Claude Fischler
  • Christy Shields-Argeles
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    Judgments of naturalness of foods tend to be more influenced by the process history of a food, rather than its actual constituents. Two types of processing of a ``natural'' food are to add something or to remove something. We report in this study, based on a large random sample of individuals from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, UK and USA) that additives are considered defining features of what makes a food not natural, whereas ``subtractives'' are almost never mentioned. In support of this, skim milk (with major subtraction of fat) is rated as more natural than whole milk with a small amount of natural vitamin D added. It is also noted that ``additives'' is a common word, with a synonym reported by a native speaker in 17 of 18 languages, whereas ``subtractive'' is lexicalized in only 1 of the 18 languages. We consider reasons for additivity dominance, relating it to omission bias, feature positive bias, and notions of purity.

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    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 6 (October)
    Pages: 475-478

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:4:y:2009:i:6:p:475-478
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