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Looking beyond health halos: exploring the impact of salience and goal activation on the perception of sugary beverages and related behavioural outcomes

Sah, A. (2018) Looking beyond health halos: exploring the impact of salience and goal activation on the perception of sugary beverages and related behavioural outcomes. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00084954


The present study responds to calls in the literature to explore the role of salience and goal activation in food choices by investigating the impact of these concepts on perceptions of fruit juices and related behavioural outcomes. Fruit juice is chosen as the context of the research as it is considered healthy, despite high sugar content. The presence of fruit in the beverage makes the beverage appear healthy, thus attributing a health halo to the product. This health halo effect often leads consumers to make misinformed choices. As such, a key contribution to the literature includes a novel approach to understanding the effects of interactions between salient sugar information and activated goals on health perception and appeal of the beverages. The finding suggests that consumers perceive sugar information on labels differently based on the activated goals at the given moment. Adapting aspects of salience and goal activation, the study employs an online experiment to prime consumers into specific groups (high/low salience and enjoyment/responsibility/self/other goals) and measures the effects of these manipulations on the perception of beverages. A number of behavioural outcomes are also measured. The findings demonstrate first, that salient sugar labels are effective in making consumers look beyond health halos of sugary beverages. Second, particularly strong links between salience and responsibility motivation show that salient sugar information is perceived more strongly (sugary product is considered unhealthier) when consumers are primed for responsibility, both in the context of significant others and themselves. Third, the link between salience and enjoyment is a counterintuitive finding, suggesting that sugar information is perceived differently (sugary product is considered healthier) when consumers are primed to think of enjoyment in the context of significant others rather than enjoyment in the context of oneself. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this study is the first of its kind to test a novel approach that makes consumers look beyond health halos of beverages, in order to encourage healthy behaviour. The combined presentation of salience as well as enjoyment/responsibility/self/other goal activation in the context of sugary beverages, along with the development of a new ERSO (Enjoyment Responsibility Self Other) scale provides an original contribution to both theory and practice.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Hillenbrand, C. and Vogt, J.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School
ID Code:84954


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