Effects of a Biased Nutrition Knowledge Calibration on Healthy Food Choices: An Abstract
Informed consumption decisions in the field of food choice are important for two reasons. Information on food is often highly complex, and the amount of information available usually is substantial (consider, for instance, package labels). Since food choices can have a significant impact on health, this paper focuses on potential misjudgments in the context of food choices which are intended to be healthy. Due to the high information basis in the context of nutrition decisions, probability judgments about one’s own knowledge should play a particularly important role in this area (Pillai et al. 2015). The aim of this study is to investigate how a potential distortion of nutrition knowledge calibration may effect consumer decisions in the context of healthy food choices.
Knowledge calibration has been defined as the degree of conformity between actual knowledge and perceived knowledge (Alba and Hutchinson 2000; Lichtenstein and Fischhoff 1977). This is based on two constructs, namely, accuracy and confidence (Alba and Hutchinson 2000). The former indicates what a person really knows, whereas the latter reflects what a person believes he or she knows. The level of knowledge calibration is measured by asking respondents to express their knowledge on a particular topic (see Alba and Hutchinson 2000 for an overview). Afterward, respondents evaluate to what extent they believe that their given answer is correct. A perfect knowledge calibration occurs when the probability judgments of an individual with respect to the correctness of their given answers is constantly equal to the probability that these answers were correct (Fischhoff et al. 1977). However, behavioral research studies have shown that individuals are frequently less well-calibrated, since they often evaluate their own knowledge incorrectly (Parker and Stone 2014). This bias is reflected in overconfidence or underconfidence, which means that their indicated probability judgments about being correct are constantly higher (lower) than the actual number of correct answers given (Lichtenstein and Fischhoff 1977). A distinct tendency toward overconfidence has been shown in a majority of studies conducted on knowledge calibration (Parker and Stone 2014). Biased knowledge calibration constitutes an important problem. Individuals who do not know that their knowledge on a topic of interest is incomplete or wrong are unable to deal with this lack in knowledge. Accordingly, we can conclude that individuals with a biased knowledge calibration could arrive at suboptimal decisions (Feick et al. 1992).
The previous discussion raises questions as to what extent consumers display possible bias in the form either of overconfidence or underconfidence in their nutrition knowledge. Furthermore, it is important to determine whether biased nutrition knowledge has a direct effect on food choices. The findings expected from this preliminary study could provide useful insights into the role of consumer nutrition knowledge for their food choices.
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