REES Department Seminar – Maik Kecinski

Date(s) - 06/11/2020
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Department Seminar with Maik Kecinski, Department of Research Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

Title: Feelings Vs. Behavior – A Neuroeconomic Perspective on Food and Water Stigma

Abstract: Feelings of disgust can lead consumers to reject or reduce their demand for food products and services that are scientifically safe. Adding the “right” positive elements to a stigmatized item has been shown to mitigate the disgust attached to it. However, this can be difficult and expensive to do as it requires the stigmatized object to go through a process that restores its “natural” and “pure” state. This study proposes that a behavioral intervention that emphasizes the existing, positive dimensions of a stigmatized object can lessen the weight of disgust in the decision process and mitigate its effects. Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging with a single bounded dichotomous-choice experiment, we test if a video that promotes recycled water can ameliorate consumers’ aversion to food produced with it. Results show that the video did not change activation in the insular cortex, the main neural structure involved in processing disgust, but it did change participants choices. This suggests that participants’ greater acceptance of recycled irrigation water came not from overcoming whatever psychological reactions of disgust they experienced but from reweighting its importance in their decisions.

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