UBC Undergraduate Research

A Nudge With Your Fudge : The Impacts of Negative and Positive Labelling on Psychological Affect Dasgupta, Abhigyan; Ebadi, Pardis; Kumar, Aditi; Lam, Chloe; Padilla, Olga-Emilia; Hein-Salvi, Claire


As climate change is accelerating1, more foodservice businesses are using climate-friendly food labels to nudge consumers toward sustainable items2. However, no known study has examined the psychological impact of these labels on consumers. Thus, the present study aims to examine whether negative food labels (NFLs) are more effective at nudging consumers toward sustainable items compared to positive food labels (PFLs) and how they impact psychological affect. Data were collected from UBC undergraduates (N=253) via online surveys. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: the PFL condition, the NFL condition, and the no-label condition. In each condition, participants rated how likely they were to choose each food shown. Afterwards, we measured their shame, guilt, and positive and negative affect. Findings from an ANOVA analysis show that there was no significant difference between the performance of the NFLs and PFLs. Results from a correlational analysis show that NFLs were not associated with increased negative affect, shame or guilt. PFLs were associated with decreased negative affect but not with positive affect, shame or guilt. Our study demonstrates that NFLs should not be avoided on products for fear of negative psychological impact on consumers, and the use of PFLs should be continued. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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