The principles of transparency and disclosure are visible everywhere from fast-food menus to financial regulation. But if lawmakers don't consider the behavior of both markets and consumers, better information may not translate to smarter shoppers.Consumer Protection Takes More Than Transparency
Paper The ‘Mere Reminder’ Effect of Salient Calorie Labeling
Calorie labeling, an increasingly common policy intervention, has had mixed effects on consumer food choices. We show that visual salience of the calorie labels, rather than merely information content or format, is the key to reducing calorie. Our findings indicate that effective labeling, more visually salient than standard industry disclosures, works primarily as a reminder, by prompting people to consider nutrition rather than by providing new information. Both visually salient information and completely non-informative “mere reminders” to consider calories have similar effects on calorie choices, by making people more likely to incorporate their beliefs about nutrition into their decision. As a consequence, when consumers perceive high-calorie items as healthy, calorie labeling working as mere reminders will be less effective and can even backfire, leading to more choices of healthy-seeming high-calorie food options. The findings underscore the need for experimentally testing the psychological consequences of even ostensibly informational interventions.
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