Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Organic' leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some consumers

Date:
December 7, 2012
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Labeling food as “organic” may not always lead to a positive impression, according to a recent study. The research flips the notion of a “halo” effect for ethical food labels.

Organic labels can lead to positive or negative impressions, in part based on a consumer's personal values.
Credit: USDA

Labeling food as "organic" may not always lead to a positive impression, according to a recent Cornell University study.

The research, published Nov. 27 online in the journal Appetite, flips the notion of a "halo" effect for ethical food labels. A halo effect refers to a phenomenon where a label leads consumers to have a positive opinion -- and in the case of an organic label, a healthful impression -- of those foods.

This research finds that such positive impressions are partly based on the personal values of a consumer. The two-part study found that some conditions can produce a negative impression of organic labels among consumers, due to the consumer's values.

In the first part, Jonathon Schuldt, Cornell assistant professor of communication, and Mary Hannahan, a student at the University of Michigan, asked 215 students whether they thought organic food was healthier and tastier than conventional food. While most agreed that organics were a healthy choice compared with conventional food, fewer expected organic food to taste good by comparison. This latter finding was especially true for participants who had low concern for the environment.

"The personal values of the rater mattered," said Schuldt. "Our data suggest when organic practices do not appeal to a consumer's values, they expect organic food to taste worse."

In part two of the study, the researchers explored whether there were contexts in which people who were pro-environment might have a negative impression of organic labels. Here, 156 participants read one of two versions of a fake news article that discussed the development of "a highly engineered drink product designed to relieve the symptoms of African children suffering from severe malnutrition," according to the study. To convey the artificial, engineered aspect of the beverage, the article described the drink -- named "Relief drink 1.1" -- as a "formula" that resulted from a collaboration between "scientists and the food industry." In one version of the news article, the engineered drink was described as organic every time the drink was mentioned. The other version never mentioned the word organic. Participants were randomly assigned one version of the news story or the other.

The results showed that participants who were highly pro-environment judged the organic version of the drink to be less effective compared with the non-organic version.

"It's a reminder that the halo effect hinges on the values of the perceiver," said Schuldt. "It's not the case that you can label a food organic and expect that everyone will perceive it more positively. Under certain circumstances, ethical labels could have an unintended backfire effect."

Future research may involve taste tests of organic and conventional foods to see if personal values influence a taster's perceptions when actually eating a food, Schuldt added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathon P. Schuldt, Mary Hannahan. When good deeds leave a bad taste. Negative inferences from ethical food claims. Appetite, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.11.004

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "'Organic' leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some consumers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121207085551.htm>.
Cornell University. (2012, December 7). 'Organic' leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some consumers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121207085551.htm
Cornell University. "'Organic' leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some consumers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121207085551.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins