I'll Have Fries with That: Increasing Choice Complexity Promotes Indulgent Food Choices

Yong Kyu Lee, Kimberlee Weaver, Stephen M. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three studies showed that the way that options are presented in a choice set—as combinations of intersecting attributes or in a more sequential “a la carte” choice format—affects the degree to which consumers adhere to their goals in the consumption setting. Specifically, using the context of food consumption and healthy eating, results showed that consumers were more likely to make double indulgent choices, the choice of both an indulgent entrée and an indulgent side item, when choosing from a menu consisting of predetermined “combination meals” than when selecting among the same entrée and side options in an a la carte fashion. Studies 2 and 3 implicated a goal distraction mechanism in driving the effect; the combination format, with its cross-cutting of product choices into various combinations, reduces the salience of goal-related constructs on implicit measures. In showing that different product presentation formats can affect the degree to which consumers make goal-consistent choices, the current work adds to work on the effects of environmental influences on goal progress and goal achievement. Implications for encouraging goal-consistent behavior in the context of healthy eating as well as other important consumer goal contexts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-515
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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