Menu engineering to encourage sustainable food choices when dining out: An online trial of priced-based decoys

Attwood, S., Chesworth, S. and Parkin, B. 2020. Menu engineering to encourage sustainable food choices when dining out: An online trial of priced-based decoys. Appetite. 149 104601. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104601

TitleMenu engineering to encourage sustainable food choices when dining out: An online trial of priced-based decoys
TypeJournal article
AuthorsAttwood, S., Chesworth, S. and Parkin, B.
Abstract

Menu-based ‘nudges’ hold promise as effective ways to encourage a shift away from ruminant meat and towards more environmentally friendly plant-based options when dining out. One example of a menu-based nudge is including an inferior ‘decoy’ option to existing items on menus. Decoys have been shown to influence decision-making in other domains (e.g. Lichters, Bengart, Sarstedt, & Vogt, 2017), but have yet to be used to promote sustainable food choices. Two online randomized controlled trials tested whether the addition of higher priced ‘decoy’ vegetarian options to menus influenced the number of diners choosing a ‘target’ vegetarian option. Adjusted Generalized Estimating Equations on data from four menu conditions showed no main effect of intervention group in study 1 (decoy absent vs. decoy present; odds ratio (OR) 1.08 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.45 to 2.57). Replicating the trial in study 2 across seven menu conditions and testing a more expensive decoy also showed no main effect of the intervention (decoy absent vs. decoy present; OR 0.68 (95% CI 0.41 to 1.12). Further analyses revealed that our price-based decoy strategy (a £30% price increase) did not significantly influence the numbers who chose the inferior decoy dish, potentially due to the fact that dish choices were purely hypothetical. Further research is now needed to clarify which attributes of a dish (e.g. taste, portion size, signature ingredients etc.) are optimal candidates for use as decoys and testing these in real world choice contexts.

KeywordsSustainable diets
Environment
Food choice
Behaviour change
Menu design
Randomized controlled trial
Article number104601
JournalAppetite
Journal citation149
ISSN0195-6663
Year2020
PublisherElsevier
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104601
Publication dates
Published online15 Jan 2020
Published in print01 Jun 2020

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