The fair trade effect : health halos from social Ethics Claims

15 February 2012

The authors provide evidence that the ethical claims on food packaging (eg fair trade) can lead to the misconception of the calorific value of food and thus promoting higher consumption of it.

In Study 1, participants underestimated the calorie content of fair trade chocolate (a claim which simply means that trading partners have received fair compensation for their work).

Study 2 has also revealed that the chocolate was perceived as less calorific when a company just described its ethical values (for example, by providing excellent wages and health care) as opposed to unethical (eg, low wages and no health care). Furthermore, as the belief of calorie counting does influence how much you eat, ethical allegations could push some consumers to overindulge, despite the current obesity crisis.

Jonathon P. Schuldt, Dominique Muller, Norbert Schwarz

Social Psychological and Personality Science DOI : 10.1177/194855061143164

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