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Health Commun. 2011 Mar;26(2):159-70. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2010.544281.

Not all nutrition claims are perceived equal: anchoring effects and moderating mechanisms in food advertising.

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1
Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. paekh@msu.edu

Abstract

Despite the increased use of health claims in food advertising, few studies have investigated how specific nutrition claims have differential effects depending on how they are presented. In this context, the current study tests the anchoring hypothesis. Anchoring refers to a common human tendency to evaluate information differently depending on the presence or absence of a numerical "anchor" or reference point. Two (pilot and main) experimental studies explore anchoring effects on audience response to food advertising both directly and moderated by cognitive, motivational, and message factors. The pilot study finds that food product ads employing nutrition claims with an anchor rather than without an anchor generate two results: First, participants perceive the product to have lower fat/lower calorie contents (anchoring hypothesis); second, they prefer the messages with an anchor over those without an anchor. The main study reports that when anchoring is successfully evoked, it produces favorable attitudes toward the ad, favorable attitudes toward the brand, and purchase intention-but only when moderated by health orientation, claim believability, and nutrition knowledge. Practical implications are provided with respect to regulatory guidelines and effective communication strategies for promoting low-fat and low-calorie products in food advertising.

PMID:
21308579
DOI:
10.1080/10410236.2010.544281
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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