Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 23–61

Determinants of Consumer Attitudes and Purchase Intentions With Regard to Genetically Modified Food – Results of a Cross-National Survey

  • Lone Bredahl
Article

Abstract

Previous research has shown consumers to be highly sceptical towards genetic modification in food production. So far, however, little research has tried to explain how consumers form attitudes and make decisions with regard to genetically modified foods. The paper presents the results of a survey which was carried out in Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom to investigate the formation of consumer attitudes towards genetic modification in food production and of purchase decisions with regard to genetically modified yoghurt and beer. Altogether, 2031 consumers were interviewed in the four countries.

Results show that attitude formation and decision-making are more comparable among Danish, German, and British consumers than with Italian consumers. Italian consumers turned out to be significantly less negative towards genetic modification in foods than particularly Danish and German consumers. Across countries, the attitude towards genetic modification in food production was deeply embedded in more general attitudes held by the consumers, in particular attitude towards nature and attitude towards technology. These general attitudes were found to influence perceived risks and benefits of the technology. Purchase decisions with regard to the two product examples were almost exclusively determined by attitudes towards purchasing the products. These were, in turn, significantly influenced by the overall attitude towards genetic modification in food production through their effects on beliefs held by consumers regarding the quality and trustworthiness of the products.

The results suggest that attitudes towards genetically modified foods are quite strong, despite their lack of basis in actual product experience. Likewise, the strong relation of product-specific attitudes to the attitude towards using genetic modification in food production suggests that at present consumers reject the technology overall rather than evaluate products on a case-by-case basis. This situation may, however, be changed by a possible increased availability of genetically modified food products on the consumer market.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lone Bredahl
    • 1
  1. 1.The Aarhus School of BrusselsAarhus VDenmark

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