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Honey they shrank the food! An integrative study of the impact of food granularity and its operationalization mode on consumption

Gudrun Roose, Anneleen Van Kerckhove and Elke Huyghe

Journal of Business Research, 2017, vol. 75, issue C, 210-220

Abstract: Larger portions of tempting food spur consumption, yet the question remains whether altering food granularity (i.e., dividing a fixed portion into more, smaller versus fewer, larger partitions) also drives consumption. As current insights on the impact of food granularity on consumption are contradictory, this paper offers clarification by zooming in on the different ways in which food granularity has been operationalized in extant research. One can achieve a finer (vs. coarser) food granularity either by partitioning food into more, smaller morsels (vs. fewer larger morsels), or by grouping similarly sized food morsels together into more, smaller packages (vs. fewer, larger packages). Hence, this article introduces the operationalization mode of food granularity (i.e., partitioning vs. grouping) as a variable moderating the effect of food granularity (i.e., fine vs. coarse) on consumption. Consumers are expected to eat less when tempting foods are partitioned in more, smaller portions (as opposed to fewer, larger portions). However, consumers eat more when such tempting foods are grouped into more, smaller packages (as opposed to fewer, larger packages). Both a meta-analytic review (Study 1) and a lab experiment (Study 2) confirm this anticipated interaction effect. In addition, Study 2 shows that the extent of experienced self-control conflict underlies this combined effect of food granularity and operationalization mode on consumption. This study also shows that (un)restrained eating is an additional moderator of the interaction. These findings highlight that the manner used to divide tempting foods has important implications for consumption, which is relevant in light of the current obesity epidemic.

Keywords: Food granularity; Partitioning; Grouping; Tempting foods; Self-control conflict; (Un)restrained eating (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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