A Neuroeconomic Investigation of Disgust in Food Purchasing Decisions

Author(s)Ellis, Sean F.
Author(s)Kecinski, Maik
Author(s)Messer, Kent D.
Author(s)Lusk, Jayson L.
Date Accessioned2019-12-18T18:19:58Z
Date Available2019-12-18T18:19:58Z
Publication Date2019-12
AbstractDealing with large-scale societal problems such as water scarcity often requires changes in behavior that consumers resist. Some sustainable, cost-effective, and safe solutions are even rejected because of a psychological response of disgust, such as food produced with recycled water to supplement traditional water supplies and crickets as a replacement for water-intensive proteins like beef. This study, involving 51 adult participants, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore consumers neural responses to these types of food and the role price plays in their decisions. A video that promotes the use of recycled water was also tested to determine whether consumers’ aversion can be ameliorated. The results show activation in the insular cortex when presented with images of food produced with recycled water or crickets, indicating these foods are associated with feelings of disgust. After the treatment video, neural activity did not change in the insular cortex, however, respondent’s decisions about food produced with recycled water did. Together, these findings suggest disgust is a part of the decision process, that it lingers and can be difficult to mitigate, but that behavioral interventions have the potential to overcome it.en_US
SponsorThis study received ethics approval from the Institutional Review Board at the University of Delaware (1152788-2). Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the CONSERVE project (a Center of Excellence designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the nexus of sustainable water reuse, food, and health) (Grant No. 20166800725064), and the Delaware Environmental Institute. We also acknowledge the support of Naiim Mason for his assistance in programming the MATLAB portion of the experiment.en_US
PublisherDepartment of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.en_US
Part of SeriesAPEC Research Reports;RR19-08
KeywordsRecycled wateren_US
KeywordsFunctional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)en_US
KeywordsIrrigation wateren_US
TitleA Neuroeconomic Investigation of Disgust in Food Purchasing Decisionsen_US
TypeWorking Paperen_US