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Confirmatory Bias under Food-Borne Risk: A Lab Experiment


  • Cao, Ying
  • Just, David R.
  • Wansink, Brian


An experiment was conducted to investigate the interaction between consumers’ past eating behaviors, risk perceptions and future information processing procedure. In the study, participants were required to choose whether or not to eat chicken that was potentially be tainted with Avian Influenza (AI). Results showed that people decreased the consumption when facing ambiguous signals regarding the food quality, but would not cease to eat altogether. Due to a taste of consistency, participants updated their risk perceptions and judgments based on their eating behaviors. The more chicken individuals ate the more favorably they tended to rate the food, suggesting confirmatory bias. Even though consumers with previous experience could pick up signals faster, their judgment was not better than those non users due to a much stronger psychological bias. This study offered an explanation for why consumers were universally irresponsive to public food safety information.

Suggested Citation

  • Cao, Ying & Just, David R. & Wansink, Brian, 2010. "Confirmatory Bias under Food-Borne Risk: A Lab Experiment," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61312, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea10:61312

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    More about this item


    Cognitive Dissonance; Confirmation Bias; Self-compliance; Justification; Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Security and Poverty; Health Economics and Policy; Institutional and Behavioral Economics; Marketing; Risk and Uncertainty; D03; D12; D83; Q18;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy


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