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Predicting meat consumption from concurrent, automatic appraisals: Introducing nuance to product appraisals

by Daria Altenburg and Adriaan Spruyt

Abstract

Research into the relationship between automatic product appraisals and consumer behaviour has largely been limited to measuring generic product evaluations (i.e., positive vs. negative). Especially in the context of meat consumption, this approach seems inadequate, as conflicting evaluative product dimensions may play a role in the preference for a plant-based vs. a meat-based diet (e.g., sustainability vs. taste vs. healthiness). We discuss the limitations of this approach and provide a novel tool that can measure automatic appraisals of several stimulus dimensions simultaneously. Using this tool, we register automatic appraisals (health, taste, price, sustainability, ethicality) of meat and vegetarian stimuli, and compare automatic and explicit appraisals in relation to a range of outcome measures, including self-reported likelihood of purchase and reducing meat consumption, willingness to pay, self-reported frequency of meat consumption, and Body Mass Index. Our findings suggest that the measured automatic appraisals represent unique constructs and vary in the degree to which they inform behaviour. Further, variation in the prediction of the outcome variables suggests that the appraisals captured by the explicit and automatic measures differed. Demonstrating unique contributions of the individual automatic appraisals has crucial implications for future research to understand behaviour and improve existing models.

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