Choice Architecture and Diet Health

Last registered on June 15, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Choice Architecture and Diet Health
Initial registration date
June 06, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 15, 2023, 3:55 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Xiamen University, School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Individuals usually tradeoff between consuming their favorite food and staying healthy. Diet health is a crucial determinant of many common diseases including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and so on. Governments around the world have invested substantial resources to improve individuals’ dietary habits, but the consequences are far from satisfactory. An established literature has proposed different methods to influence individual decisions that involve the self-control problem such as smoking. However, systematic comparisons among different methods are insufficient, especially in the domain of diet healthiness. This project aims at investigating the effect of different incentives or choice architectures on individuals’ food choices in terms of diet healthiness. In our experiment, subjects are given lists of 20 items of food—10 fruits and 10 snacks—and are asked to select 10 items to receive. We randomly assign subjects into eight conditions: one condition as the baseline, one condition using the classical method of financial incentives, and six conditions using methods of choice architecture, with variations in the provision of calorie information, availability of the half portion option, default, recommendation, and bundle, and the presentation order of food. We are mainly interested in comparisons among these eight conditions in outcomes including individuals’ willingness to consume fruits, nutrition in the selected basket, and decision process.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Chen, Yiting. 2023. "Choice Architecture and Diet Health." AEA RCT Registry. June 15.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The proportion of fruits in the selected basket (%)
The number of Calories in the selected basket (cal)
The amount of carbon dioxide in the selected basket (g)
The amount of fat in the selected basket (g)
The amount of protein in the selected basket (g)
The duration of making decisions (second)
The sequence of selection (path)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This project aims at investigating the effect of different incentives or choice architectures on individuals’ food choice in terms of diet health.

Decision Task
To examine individuals’ food choices, we adopt the experimental framework of Sadoff, Samek, and Sprenger (2020). Subjects are given lists of 20 food items presented in random order, in which 20 items are fruits and 20 items are snacks. These 20 items are presented in a table of 4 rows and 5 columns. The proportion of fruits and the nutrition index of the selected basket measure the diet health. In total, we construct three lists with 60 distinct items of food.

Control and Treatments
We design eight conditions. In the Baseline conditions, subjects make decisions on the three lists sequentially without variations. The remaining seven conditions involve treatment variations. Specifically, the first lists are identical across all eight conditions, and we start treatment variations from the second list.

In the Financial Incentives conditions, subjects are given an additional five yuan if they select more than five fruits in one list, and if they select more than five snacks in the other list. Put differently, we consider both the nudge for a healthy diet and the nudge for an unhealthy diet, which allows further discussions on the symmetry of individuals’ responses to nudges.

The provision of financial incentives is a classical method to solve the self-control problem. Choice architecture is another approach, which concerns the design of choice presentation without distorting individuals’ incentives. Our remaining treatment conditions use different methods from choice architecture.

The Information condition provides subjects with information on the number of calories of every 100g of food for each item. The Half Portion condition requires subjects to choose between half portion or full portion of the food when they pick an item. The Default condition sets default choices for subjects and subjects can adjust selection easily. In one list, we randomly pick seven fruits and three snacks as the defaults, while in the other list, we randomly pick three fruits and seven snacks as the defaults. In the Recommendation condition, we provide recommendations for subjects by labeling ten items as “recommended”. In one list, a random set of seven fruits and three snacks is recommended, while in the other list, a random set of three fruits and seven snacks is recommended. In the Bundle condition, we provide a bundle of ten items to subjects, in which we show the name of these ten items selected from the list. In one list, the bundle contains a random set of seven fruits and three snacks, while in the other list, the bundle contains a random set of three fruits and seven snacks. In the Order condition, we group all fruits together and all snacks together instead of randomizing all items. In one list, the group of fruits is presented in the first two rows, in the other list, the group of snacks is presented in the first two rows.

All subjects receive a participation fee. We will randomly select one out of every ten subjects to receive gifts. For the chosen subjects, we will randomly select one of the three baskets of food chosen by them as gifts.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done by the program built on Qualtrics.
Randomization Unit
This is a between-subject experiment. Subjects will be randomly assigned to different groups that differ in methods of choice architecture.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We have eight conditions.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We plan to recruit 800 subjects for the experiment (100 subjects for each of the eight conditions).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 subjects
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials