Kim, Seon-Woong

By: Kim, Seon-Woong; Lusk, Jayson L.; Brorsen, B. Wade
We investigate whether consumers purchase organic foods to demonstrate social status to others. Subjects were asked to choose among organic and nonorganic milk and apples in a control group and treatments in which: i) an image of another person’s eyes was displayed, ii) responses appeared to not be anonymous, or iii) a vignette placed the choice in the presence of an acquaintance. The vignette treatment increased the willingness-to-pay (WTP) premium for organic by about 90%. The other treatments did not have significant overall effects. When exposed to another person’s eyes, more educated respondents increased their WTP for organic.