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Effects of physical cleansing on subsequent unhealthy eating


  • Jungkeun Kim

    () (Auckland University of Technology)

  • Jae-Eun Kim

    () (The University of Auckland)

  • Jongwon Park

    () (Korea University)


Abstract Over five experiments, we demonstrate that physical cleansing (e.g., handwashing) can reduce consumers’ unhealthy eating in subsequent unrelated contexts, by decreasing their choice of vice food (e.g., chocolate cake) versus virtue food (e.g., fruit salad) and their preferred amount vice food for consumption. This effect generalizes over different food stimuli and different operationalizations of physical cleansing (i.e., actual cleansing, visualized cleansing, and vicarious cleansing). Further, an analogous effect occurs for consumers’ unethical choice in a non-food domain, thus increasing the generalizability of the cleansing effect. Finally, one potential mechanism of the effect based on the metaphorical associations between physical cleanliness and moral purity and between vice food and immoral consumption is suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • Jungkeun Kim & Jae-Eun Kim & Jongwon Park, 2018. "Effects of physical cleansing on subsequent unhealthy eating," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 165-176, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:mktlet:v:29:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11002-018-9458-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s11002-018-9458-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
    2. Alexander Chernev, 2011. "Semantic Anchoring in Sequential Evaluations of Vices and Virtues," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(5), pages 761-774.
    3. Marisabel Romero & Dipayan Biswas, 2016. "Healthy-Left, Unhealthy-Right: Can Displaying Healthy Items to the Left (versus Right) of Unhealthy Items Nudge Healthier Choices?," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 103-112.
    4. Alexander Fedorikhin & Vanessa M. Patrick, 2010. "Positive Mood and Resistance to Temptation: The Interfering Influence of Elevated Arousal," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(4), pages 698-711, December.
    5. Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-292, December.
    6. Jungkeun Kim & Jae-Eun Kim & Jongwon Park, 2012. "Effects of cognitive resource availability on consumer decisions involving counterfeit products: The role of perceived justification," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 869-881, September.
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