Though research has demonstrated that people generally perceive fruits to be healthy foods, little is known about how people think about the health benefits associated with eating increasing quantities of fruit. The purpose of this paper is to examine how evaluations of healthiness change as participants consider eating increasing quantities of fruit, and to explore how additional contextual features (i.e., variety and timing) can be leveraged to improve evaluations. In two within-subjects experiments, participants rated how good or bad for one's health it would be to eat increasing quantities of either the same fruit or a variety of fruits. In study 1, all participants were instructed to imagine eating the fruit over the course of the day. In study 2, the temporal distribution of the fruit (throughout the day, during a single meal) was manipulated. In general, both studies demonstrated that evaluations of overall healthiness for eating increasing quantities of the same fruit tended to diminish beyond two pieces of fruit, whereas the overall healthiness of eating increasing quantities of a variety of fruit remained stable. Study 2 demonstrated that evaluations of healthiness increased as additional fruit was considered when a variety of fruit was imagined to be eaten throughout the day. Thus, the health benefits that people assign to eating increasing quantities of fruit seem to increase, but only if eating a variety of fruits throughout the day is considered. This study suggests that evaluations of the healthiness of fruit are not made in isolation; evaluations of healthiness are contextualized by what has been eaten previously and when it was eaten.
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd
- Prospect theory