Degree Granting Department
Dipayan Biswas, Ph.D.
Donna Davis, Ph.D.
Maura Scott, Ph.D.
Mark Bender, Ph.D.
Digital Marketing, Dual Processing Theories, Healthful Consumption, Online Ordering
Do digital devices change the way we think? Recent news reports and studies in education and psychology suggest that using modern internet technology affects our cognitive abilities. Modern technology is part of our daily lives and has facilitated communication. As technology has also changed the ways consumers order foods, the present research aims at investigating how the presence of different types of technology in a food choice context might influence food perceptions and choices. Touch-screen tablets or kiosks are becoming widely available in casual dining and fast-food restaurants. In addition, through collaborations with tech-giants like Uber Eats and Amazon, an increasing number of restaurants are entering the food delivery market. This dissertation research proposes that placing an order with the involvement of digital technology (e.g., ordering through a website or an app) versus a lower degree of technology involvement or no technology (e.g., in person or on paper) would lead to different healthfulness perceptions and food choices. Building on dual processing theories, we propose that using a more digital (vs. non-digital) mode for ordering food triggers reliance on a more experiential and automatic decision-making system, because digital devices are linked to immediate gratification and impulsive behaviors.
The findings from nine experiments in field and lab settings provide evidence for the proposed effects. We show that using a digital device (versus a non-digital medium) leads to a higher reliance on an experiential decision-making style, thus leading consumers to focus on foods that are high on an affective dimension. This focus results in lower healthfulness perceptions of menus that are displayed digitally and, in turn, leads to unhealthier food choices.
The findings from this research make important contributions to theory and practice. Our findings contribute to our understanding of how the use of technology influences how users interpret different consumption situations in terms of processing style. Apart from choices, this dissertation research investigates menu healthfulness perceptions, which has not received much attention in research. We explore healthy and unhealthy food choices and, therefore, add to the literature on healthful consumption, which identifies simple ways to encourage more mindful food choices.
From a managerial perspective, findings from this research can help food outlets determine the consequences of the use of technology in a food context. While many restaurants introduce ordering kiosks or display their menus digitally, this may influence consumers’ perceptions of the food and subsequent choices. Lastly, as researchers often conduct surveys on paper or on digital devices, this research introduces potential differences in responses to food related questions based solely on the survey taking mechanism.
Scholar Commons Citation
Abell, Annika, "How Digital versus Non-Digital Modes of Food Ordering Influence Menu Healthfulness Perceptions and Food Choices" (2019). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.