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Keywords:

  • portion sizes;
  • framing;
  • food choice;
  • social norms;
  • consumer behavior;
  • overeating

ABSTRACT

Labels such as ‘Large’ or ‘Super-size’ are often used to describe portion sizes. How do these normative labels influence consumer choice and how much they ultimately either consume or waste? Although one might believe that firms use normative labels to impact choice behavior through loss aversion, a field experiment shows consumer's willingness to pay is inconsistent with a loss aversion explanation. Although portions were clearly visible, individuals appeared to use the labels as objective information about their size. Importantly, a second study showed these labels also led people to eat less when food was given a larger sounding name than a smaller name (double vs. regular; regular vs. half-size). If labels are used as size information, policies governing normative names could help reduce food consumption or reduce waste. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.