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

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  • Paul Rozin
  • Claude Fischler
  • Christy Shields-Argeles

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Rozin & Claude Fischler & Christy Shields-Argeles, 2009. "Additivity dominance: Additives are more potent and more often lexicalized across languages than are ``subtractives''," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(6), pages 475-478, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:4:y:2009:i:6:p:475-478
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baron, Jonathan & Ritov, Ilana, 1993. "Intuitions about Penalties and Compensation in the Context of Tort Law," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 17-33, August.
    2. Paul Rozin, 2006. "Naturalness judgments by lay Americans: Process dominates content in judgments of food or water acceptability and naturalness," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 91-97, November.
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    Keywords

    natural; additive; food; medicine.;

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