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Fast and frugal food choices: uncovering individual decision heuristics

Todd, Peter M.
Miesler, Linda
Published in Appetite. 2007, vol. 49, no. 3, p. 578-589
Abstract Research on food decision making is often based on the assumption that people take many different aspects into account and weight and add them according to their personally assessed importance. Yet there is a growing body of research suggesting that people's decisions can often be better described by simple heuristics—rules of thumb that people use to make choices based on only a few important pieces of information. To test empirically whether a simple heuristic is able to account for individual food decisions, we ran a computerized experiment in which participants (N=50) repeatedly chose between pairs of 20 lunch dishes that were sampled from a local food court. A questionnaire assessed individual importance weights as well as evaluation ratings of each lunch dish on nine different factors. Our results show that a simple lexicographic heuristic that only considers each participant's most important factors is as good at predicting participants’ food choices as a weighted additive model that takes all factors into account. This result questions the adequacy of weighted additive models as sole descriptions of human decision making in the food domain and provides evidence that food choices may instead be based on simple heuristics.
Keywords Simple heuristicsWeighted additive modelFood choiceLexicographicDecision makingTransitivity
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SCHEIBEHENNE, Benjamin, TODD, Peter M., MIESLER, Linda. Fast and frugal food choices: uncovering individual decision heuristics. In: Appetite, 2007, vol. 49, n° 3, p. 578-589. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:76446

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Deposited on : 2015-10-23

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