Nevertheless, weight-conscious consumers often buy these snacks to stay trim or lose weight. According to researchers, however, it might actually have the opposite effect.
A report published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests smaller packages can lead people to eat more.
Many people find it hard to restrict themselves to just one packet when eating snack-sized portions, and are also more likely to dig into the treats than if they had a big bag, concluded researchers from Tilburg University, Netherlands.
In one experiment, students were primed to think about their body shape, then were given potato chips and left to watch television. They ate nearly twice as many chips when given nine small bags as when given two large ones. They also hesitated less before opening the small bags.
Consumers believe that small package formats of hedonic, but not of utilitarian, products help to regulate consumption—especially when their self-regulatory concerns are activated. These beliefs may backfire and increase consumption of hedonic products. Specifically, activating self-regulatory concerns had no consumption effects when tempting products came in small package formats. Yet, when tempting products came in large package formats, consumers deliberated most before consumption, were least likely to consume, and consumed the least. This illustrates how small temptations can remain undetected (“flying under the radar”) and large package formats may reduce consumption as a result of the experienced self-control conflict.(1)I don't know about you, but an orange sounds pretty good right now.
Sources: The New York Times, NUTRAingredients-usa.com,
(1)Journal of Consumer Research
October 2008, published online ahead of print, DOI: 10.1086/589564
"Flying under the Radar: Perverse Package Size Effects on Consumption Self-Regulation"
Authors: Rita Coelho Do Vale, Rik Pieters, Marcel Zeelenberg
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