Eating healthy or having a healthy appetite: studying the effects of language and cultural orientation on desire and food choice for healthy meals.

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
As public health decreases, it becomes more and more important to find a way to increase the appeal for healthy foods. In order to achieve this goal, the present study focuses on language (sensory and health-focused) as a means to stimulate desire and purchase intention for healthy meals. In addition, this study takes culturally determined goal orientations into account and hypothesizes that cultures with a long-term orientation will be more so influenced by language that emphasizes health aspects in order to live a long and healthy life, whereas short-term oriented cultures will be more so influenced by language that is sensory and thus provides immediate gratification. In an online survey, Dutch participants (operationalized as having a short-term, more sensory orientation) and German participants (operationalized as having a long-term, health-focused orientation) assessed meals described by sensory, health-focused and neutral language. Contrary to prior studies, findings of this study present no evidence for the effects of language on desire and purchase intention. In addition, there was no effect of goal orientations on the influence of sensory and healthy language. Thus, this study concludes that while the effects of sensory language and health focused language may occur sometimes, they do not occur at all times. More psycholinguistic research into pinpointing exactly how language can increase appeal is needed.
Faculteit der Letteren