By: Just, David R.; Wansink, Brian; Turvey, Calum G.
How would a possible food safety scare influence food consumption? Using techniques from experimental psychology, a study of 103 lunchtime participants suggests that a food scare--avian influenza--would decrease consumption of the affected food by 17% if the subjects believed it was naturally occurring, and by 26% if they believed it was the result of terrorism. While individual consumption decreased, very few eliminated all consumption of the affected food. We argue that experimental psychology is essential when attempting to study behavior in food safety where hypothetical scenarios and surveys would not capture the emotional nature of the response.