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Unformatted text preview: 000 q 2011 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc. ● Vol. 39 ● August 2012 All rights reserved. 0093-5301/2012/3902-0005$10.00. DOI: 10.1086/662615 Plate Size and Color Suggestibility: The Delboeuf Illusion’s Bias on Serving and Eating Behavior KOERT VAN ITTERSUM BRIAN WANSINK Despite the challenged contention that consumers serve more onto larger din- nerware, it remains unclear what would cause this and who might be most at risk. The results of five studies suggest that the neglected Delboeuf illusion may explain how the size of dinnerware creates two opposing biases that lead people to over- serve on larger plates and bowls and underserve on smaller ones. A countercyclical sinus-shaped relationship is shown to exist between these serving biases and the relative gap between the edge of the food and the edge of the dinnerware. Although these serving biases are difficult to eliminate with attention and education, changing the color of one’s dinnerware or tablecloth may help attenuate them. By showing that the Delboeuf illusion offers a mechanistic explanation for how dinnerware size can bias serving and intake, we open new theoretical opportunities for linking illusions to eating behavior and suggest how simple changes in design can improve consumer welfare. T here is a growing belief that the size of dinnerware influences how much people serve and consume during a single serving occasion. Indeed, the three largest health- related websites—WebMD.com (86 million visitors per month), NIH.gov (31 million), and Medicinenet.com (14 million)—each recommend that consumers replace larger dinnerware with smaller dinnerware to reduce consumption. A seemingly obvious initial explanation is that smaller din- Koert Van Ittersum ([email protected]) is associate professor of marketing, Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Man- agement, Atlanta, GA 30308-1149. Brian Wansink ([email protected]) is John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing, Cornell University, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Ithaca, NY 14853- 7801. Correspondence: Koert Van Ittersum. The authors are grateful for the generous support of the Illinois Attorney General. The authors thank Pierre Chandon, Ronald C. Goodstein, and Collin R. Payne for their val- uable comments on earlier drafts of this article. Special thanks to Melanie Yakemovic for creating the stimuli used in study 1. Thanks also to Brandon Antic, Lynda Chang, Stephen He, Tony Hsu, Melissa Lau, Carter Posey, Matthew Queen, Bonnie Shaw, Daniel Sheehan, Kushal Sukthankar, Bruria Miron, and Clark Hale for their assistance with data collection. Finally, the authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful input of the editors and reviewers throughout the review process....
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