Calorie Information avoidance and food temptation

Last registered on September 08, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Calorie Information avoidance and food temptation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009838
Initial registration date
September 06, 2022

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
September 08, 2022, 11:43 AM EDT

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

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Texas A&M University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University
PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University
PI Affiliation
University of Missouri

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-09-01
End date
2022-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Contrary to standard economic models of information acquisition, individuals may actively choose to seek or avoid information, depending on the sign of valence of the expected outcome from the information search. On one hand, people may avoid calorie information, as it may impose self-control or temptation costs on consumers. On the other hand, people may also seek information that improves decision-making or in situations where one is indifferent to the outcome. Given these various reasons to both avoid and seek information, it should be no surprise that the literature has shown that calorie information can either increase, decrease, or have no impact on the demand for healthier alternatives when revealed to consumers. The aim of this study is twofold. First, we seek to identify the change in peoples’ preferences when realized calorie amounts are lower, equal, or greater than their initial expectations. We provide a theoretical intuition to explain the apparent anomalies of food consumption in response to food calorie information. More specifically a positive (negative) difference between actual and expected calorie information will induce a reduction (increase) in food consumption. If the actual calorie information closely matches the expected calorie information, then there is no difference in food consumption. We test this calorie expectation-realization hypothesis in a controlled experiment where menus are constructed with items that have 900, 600, and 300 calories and are placed in binary menus with a fixed option that contains 600 calories. Second, we study how people choose to willfully expose themselves to calorie information in such an environment. In doing so, we intend to identify the mechanisms leading to the inconsistent findings in previous literature and provide marketers and policymakers with additional insight into how consumers respond to caloric and other health information.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Melo, Grace et al. 2022. "Calorie Information avoidance and food temptation." AEA RCT Registry. September 08. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9838-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2022-09-01
Intervention End Date
2022-12-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Proportion of subjects who choose healthy over non-healthy food options when calorie information is revealed.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct a lab experiment where we exogenously manipulate the provision of calorie information for two meals: option A (a wrap varying in caloric content) and option B (a fixed sandwich alternative). The two meal options differ in their temptation level and perceived healthfulness.
Participants are randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups for calorie information that include two experimental conditions: (a) no information disclosure and (b) full information disclosure; and (c) an endogenous choice of information. In each group, subjects participate in three menu conditions where option B is a fixed sandwich with around 600 calories. The three conditions differ in option A: wrap with around (i) 300 calories, (ii) 600 calories, and (iii) 900 calories.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Computer program
Randomization Unit
The unit of cluster is at an individual level. After completing stage 1, subjects are randomly placed in either no, full, or endogenous treatment and remain in there for the rest of the experiment.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Since we cluster at the individual level, the number of clusters equals the number of participants. We expect 268 subjects in our study.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We have a total of 3 choices across the two stages, meaning that we expect 804 observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
268 subjects in total: 67 in full and no information treatments and 134 in the endogenous treatments
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The power calculations assume a medium effect size. To achieve this effect size, the study will include a total of 268 subjects: 67 subjects in the information and no-information treatments and 134 subjects in the endogenous treatment. This is expecting a 50-50 split in the endogenous change. That we may need to oversample that treatment depending on the actual choices of participants.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Human Research Protection Program
IRB Approval Date
2022-08-11
IRB Approval Number
IRB2022-0524D