Study Title:

Emotions and Eating

Study Abstract

Press Release:

How About Dessert? Understanding their Emotions Helps Consumers Make Better Choice.

People with highly developed emotional sensibilities are better at making product choices, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Consumers who understand their emotional ability can make higher quality consumption decisions such as health decisions and product choices,” explain the authors, Blair Kidwell, David M. Hardesty, and Terry L. Childers (University of Kentucky). “A person can know a lot about nutrition and know what foods are not healthy, but can still make poor decisions when unable to recognize, reason, and solve problems based on emotional patterns,” they add. For example, compulsive eaters may understand nutrition, but they may not realize their emotions affect their food choices.

This research establishes a new method for assessing consumers’ emotional intelligence. The authors developed a scale by testing undergraduates with more than 110 questions about emotions and consumption. As a result of this research, the authors were able to determine which emotion-related questions best predicted overeating.

The researchers then narrowed the questions to 18. They measured four different dimensions of consumer emotional ability: perceiving, facilitating, understanding, and managing emotions. This 18-item scale—called the CEIS, or Consumer Emotional Intelligence Scale—is a highly reliable indicator of consumer behavior.

It seems consumers who care about healthy eating need to consider their feelings instead of studying nutrition labels.

Study Information

Blair Kidwell, David M. Hardesty, and Terry L. Childers
Consumer Emotional Intelligence: Conceptualization, Measurement, and the Prediction of Consumer Decision Making
Journal of Consumer Research
2008 May

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