Conscious and Unconscious Consumer Choice of Food Products
Master's Thesis from the year 2013 in the subject Psychology - Work, Business, Organisational and Economic Psychology, grade: 2,3, Technical University of Munich, language: English, abstract: When going for grocery shopping, some consumers make up their minds about what to buy and write down shopping lists. Others just go into the supermarket and do not really think beforehand about the things they need. Although in both situations, individuals engage in different ways of decision making on the purchase of groceries, when coming home and putting things into the shelve, they positively or negatively assess the things they bought. Whereas in some situations one gets a positive feeling because e.g. s/he purchased all the products on the shopping list. In another situation, a consumer might end up being bored because s/he just bought the groceries which are perceived as useful, and did not listen to his/her inner voice calling for more than just the fulfillment of utilitarian needs. Generally, consumers can consciously do their purchases and decide for products after thinking on it, or can consider a product's attributes and let their intuition decide. In the interest of the consumer, the question emerges how the consumer decides at best. Does a consumer receive greater satisfaction from consciously elaborating about the products s/he is facing, or is it better not to think consciously when facing product choices? This question is differently assessed by different models on decision making. Whereas some authors (Ajzen, 2011; Bandura, 1986, 1997; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Payne et al., 1993) emphasize consciousness in decision making, there is also a large number of proponents of unconscious thought (Dijksterhuis, 2004, Dijksterhuis et al., 2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, Levine, 1996, Bargh, 2002, and Wilson et al., 1993). Dijksterhuis and Nordgren (2006b, p.96) argue for the superiority of unconscious decision making by mentioning that '...conscious thought is constrained by the low capacity of consciousness', which results in sub-optimal choices. With regard to food products, this general superiority of unconscious thought is highly questionable. On the one hand, consumers constrain themselves in taking into account only specific products which respect certain criteria, as e.g. with diabetics and food products with less sugar content. On the other hand, food products are also bought because consumers want to confirm their conscience by purchasing e.g. fair-trade products which among other things are associated with a fair payment of farmers.
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