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Your menu choice: Exploring how tailored persuasive messaging influences the healthiness of menu choices

Author: Speelpenning, T. · Luitjens, S.B. · Kaptein, M.C. · Van Halteren, A.T.
Publisher: Philips Research
Institution: Philips Research
Identifier: tn2011-00392
Keywords: behavior change · healthy eating · social influence strategy · susceptibility to persuasion
Rights: (c) Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.


This report describes the use of personalized persuasive messages toinflu-ence healthiness of menu choice. The susceptibility to persuasion scale (STPS) was used to assign participants to different strategies. We hypothe-sized that persuasive messages would have a positive effect on menu choices. A 10-day experiment was setup to evaluatethe effect of susceptibility, in which the users were exposed to persuasive messages about healthy eating. Each of the persuasive messages implemented a particular social influence strategy. In total, 324 participants made a daily menu choice out of three presented menusthat differed in health score, for ten days in a row. The analysisincludes multilevel (regression) models that were fitted to accountfor the interdependency of the data points. The experiment does notshow significant evidence for any of the hypotheses; personalized (tailored) messages did not lead to healthier menu selection than contra-tailored, random or no messages at all. Therefore, it is assumedthat food choices are affected more by other factors than the subtlepersuasive intervention that was used in this study. However, participants were also asked to estimate the health of each menu. A (negative) effect of persuasive message principles was found on the health estimation of the menus. We suggest that the decrease in health estimation is caused by an increase of the health ideal. Furthermore,the results are compared to related work in the field of personalized persuasive messages. In particular with a similar study that has investigated persuasive effects on the reduction of snacking, here researchers found opposite results. The results of this study will help in designing a persuasion engine that will be implemented in the smart kitchen scenario, which has the purpose to create context awareness and empowers people to eat healthy.

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