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Loss Aversion and Regulatory Focus Effects in the Absence of Numbers: Qualitatively Framing Equivalent Messages on Food Labels
Unformatted Document Text:  QUALITATIVELY FRAMING EQUIVALENT MESSAGES ON FOOD LABELS food. Horowitz and McConnell (2002) found that the more a good is like an ‘‘ordinary market good’’ then the lower is the degree of gain/loss asymmetry. The production claims themselves, however, were less about the product itself and more about the implications for environmental impact and animal welfare as a result of producing that product. The environment and animal welfare are non-market goods and cannot be directly experienced by the consumer; that is the nature of these attributes (Darbi & Karni, 1973). Perhaps the predictions of loss aversion would hold when testing the production labeling claims in the absence of the food product. While that would be a clearer test of the prediction, it is less representative of the reality of how these production claims are frequently encountered by consumers. Another reason could be that the messages (the production claims) in this study were presented in a qualitative manner rather than the typical quantitative manner used in many previous studies supporting loss aversion (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981; Levin et al., 1998; Boettcher, 2004; McDermott, 2004) and in those supporting regulatory focus theory (Idson et al., 2000; Idson et al., 2004; Liberman et al., 2005). These studies did not always use numbers, but some used examples that could be quantified (i.e., reducing cholesterol in Levin et al., 2001). As mentioned in the literature review, holistic environmental impact and animal welfare are difficult to quantify objectively (Broom, 1991; Stolze et al., 2000), or, at best, would be difficult for the average consumer to fully interpret (Bateman et al., 2007). Consumers rely on food production certification agencies (government and third-party) to make the interpretations and provide them a trustworthy generalization of the meanings of good animal welfare and environmental impact (Caswell & Mojduszka 1996; Golan, Kuchler, & Mitchell, 2001). Also, framing information as gains and nonlosses primarily affects the reference point people use to make judgments and decisions (Heath, Larrick, & Wu, 1999). Soman (2004)

Authors: Abrams, Katie.
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QUALITATIVELY  FRAMING  EQUIVALENT  MESSAGES  ON  FOOD  LABELS
food. Horowitz and McConnell (2002) found that the more a good is like an ‘‘ordinary market 
good’’ then the lower is the degree of gain/loss asymmetry. The production claims themselves, 
however, were less about the product itself and more about the implications for environmental 
impact and animal welfare as a result of producing that product. The environment and animal 
welfare are non-market goods and cannot be directly experienced by the consumer; that is the 
nature of these attributes (Darbi & Karni, 1973). Perhaps the predictions of loss aversion would 
hold when testing the production labeling claims in the absence of the food product. While that 
would be a clearer test of the prediction, it is less representative of the reality of how these 
production claims are frequently encountered by consumers. 
Another reason could be that the messages (the production claims) in this study were 
presented in a qualitative manner rather than the typical quantitative manner used in many 
previous studies supporting loss aversion (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Tversky & Kahneman, 
1981; Levin et al., 1998; Boettcher, 2004; McDermott, 2004) and in those supporting regulatory 
focus theory (Idson et al., 2000; Idson et al., 2004; Liberman et al., 2005). These studies did not 
always use numbers, but some used examples that could be quantified (i.e., reducing cholesterol 
in Levin et al., 2001). As mentioned in the literature review, holistic environmental impact and 
animal welfare are difficult to quantify objectively (Broom, 1991; Stolze et al., 2000), or, at best, 
would be difficult for the average consumer to fully interpret (Bateman et al., 2007). Consumers 
rely on food production certification agencies (government and third-party) to make the 
interpretations and provide them a trustworthy generalization of the meanings of good animal 
welfare and environmental impact (Caswell & Mojduszka 1996; Golan, Kuchler, & Mitchell, 
2001).  Also, framing information as gains and nonlosses primarily affects the reference point 
people use to make judgments and decisions (Heath, Larrick, & Wu, 1999). Soman (2004) 


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