Applying the evaluability principle to nutrition table information. How reference information changes people's perception of food products
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Consumers often neglect or misinterpret nutrition table information. We argue in this paper that this can be explained by the evaluability principle, which posits that people's evaluation of a product corresponds to a greater degree with the product's actual value when people receive reference information about the product than when they do not get this information. We tested this assumption concerning nutrition table information in two studies. In Study 1, respondents received one of six nutrition tables that differed on reference and summary information about either yogurt or chocolate. In the second study, we compared three nutrition tables from the previous study, as applied to either a low nutritional value yogurt or a high nutritional value yogurt. Participants were asked to rate the attractiveness and perceived healthiness of the product in both studies. Results indicated that reference information can change people's product perception. This seems to depend, however, on the product's nutritional value and on people's primary connotation for the product. In sum, the evaluability principle can explain people's perception of a food product. A nutrition table that is adapted to this principle appears to influence people's product perception so that it becomes more in line with its nutritional value. Implications for practice and further research are given.