To combat obesity, governments, marketers, and consumer welfare organizations often encourage consumers to make food choices more rationally.(Pixabay)
To combat obesity, governments, marketers, and consumer welfare organizations often encourage consumers to make food choices more rationally.(Pixabay)

Study suggests why portraying humans as healthy machines can backfire

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam and Stanford University published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that explores how human-as-machine representations affect consumers--specifically their eating behavior and health.
ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON FEB 11, 2021 06:48 PM IST

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam and Stanford University published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that explores how human-as-machine representations affect consumers--specifically their eating behavior and health.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled 'Portraying Humans as Machines to Promote Health: Unintended Risks, Mechanisms, and Solutions' and is authored by Andrea Weihrauch and Szu-Chi Huang.

To combat obesity, governments, marketers, and consumer welfare organizations often encourage consumers to make food choices more rationally.

One strategy used is to leverage human-as-machine representations--portraying humans as machines. This approach tries to leverage people's existing associations about machines--that machines make decisions rationally--to help them approach food in a machine-like manner, with the goal of encouraging healthier choices.

For example, National Geographic's series "The Incredible Human Machine" describes unhealthy behaviors as (human) "errors" in the maintenance of our bodily machine; Centrum asks consumers to "power the human-machine" with healthy food supplements; and the international event Men's Health Week compares the human body to a car and states that unhealthy food and beverage choices (i.e., alcohol) hurt your "engine."

In addition, consumers experience human-as-machine representations in everyday life: virtual telepresence systems show people as human faces with mechanistic bodies, human enhancement technologies (e.g., augmented reality goggles) represent humans as more machine-like, and artificial intelligence (AI) software further blurs the line between humans and machines.

When consumers see humans portrayed as machines, they feel that they are expected to behave like machines and choose food like machines would--in a rational and calculating manner. This style of choice-making is in line with the hopes of policymakers and can lead to desired effects (healthier choices) for some consumers.

However, this expectation backfires for a very vulnerable segment of consumers--consumers who have low confidence in their ability to choose healthy food. For them, human-as-machine representations actually lead them to choose unhealthier options.

Why does this occur?

Weihrauch explains that "For this consumer segment, the expectation that one should be rational and machine-like when it comes to food feels impossible. Instead of feeling motivated to be more rational, the feeling of not being able to perform like a machine triggers unhealthier choice-making instead.

Thus, a strategy used with good intentions to educate consumers and improve their health can have an unintended dark side that hurts the very segment that consumer welfare organizations want to help."

There is hope, though. Research provides a practical solution to help circumvent this backfire effect: accompany the human-as-machine visuals with a message to reassure consumers that making machine-like food choices is doable. By adding this message in a cafeteria, the study found that consumers' choice of healthy food increased by 22% for some.

These results ring a cautionary bell for nonprofit organizations, policymakers, educators, and for-profit health marketers: the use of human-as-machine imagery can be more complicated than intended because confronting consumers with expectations to be "machine-like" can be risky if not aligned with their abilities.

Understanding the potential processes that cause indulgent food choices is also crucial for consumers, especially as human-as-machine stimuli become more prevalent in the lives of consumers around the world.

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Katrina Kaif shares unseen workout video(Instagram/ katrinakaif)
Katrina Kaif shares unseen workout video(Instagram/ katrinakaif)

Katrina Kaif takes squats up a notch with resistance band in new fitness video

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:52 PM IST
  • Katrina Kaif recently hosted an Ask Me Anything session on Instagram and shared never seen before images and videos with her fans. She also posted about her healthy breakfast and intense fitness routine.
Close
The study highlighted the ways that public health interventions and policies can better support quit attempts and harm reduction, both during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.(Pixabay)
The study highlighted the ways that public health interventions and policies can better support quit attempts and harm reduction, both during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.(Pixabay)

Covid-19 lockdown linked to uptick in tobacco use: Study

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:33 PM IST
A new study has found that pandemic-related anxiety, boredom, and irregular routines were cited as major drivers of increased nicotine and tobacco use during the initial Covid-19 lockdown.
Close
Aditi Rao Hydari shares hilarious fitness video(Instagram/aditiraohydari )
Aditi Rao Hydari shares hilarious fitness video(Instagram/aditiraohydari )

No weights, no problem: Aditi Rao Hydari shows how to exercise without equipment

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:20 AM IST
  • Aditi Rao Hydari shows you how to do weight training without actually using weights in her latest fitness clip. Saying that this video is hilarious would be an understatement.
Close
Study finds mask mandates, dining out influence virus spread(Pexels)
Study finds mask mandates, dining out influence virus spread(Pexels)

Study shows connection between face masks, dining out and Covid-19 cases

AP, New York
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:46 AM IST
  • A study done in the USA showed that wearing masks can actually curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, dining at restaurants, both in open area and inside, can increase the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Close
Following a vegan diet leads to poorer bone health? Here's what study has to say(Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash)
Following a vegan diet leads to poorer bone health? Here's what study has to say(Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash)

Following a vegan diet leads to poorer bone health? Here's what study has to say

ANI
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:02 PM IST
A new study observed people following a vegan diet and discovered that they had lower ultrasound values compared to others which indicates poorer bone health
Close
Young people with unstable work life might suffer mental health problems later(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)
Young people with unstable work life might suffer mental health problems later(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

Young people with unstable work life might suffer mental health problems later

ANI
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:48 PM IST
A new study reveals that a precarious labour market may be shaping a poorer future for mental health of the young working population hence, future public health policies should address this problem in order to prevent long-term absenteeism
Close
Covid-19: Oxford study hint AstraZeneca vaccine effective against Brazil variant(Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash)
Covid-19: Oxford study hint AstraZeneca vaccine effective against Brazil variant(Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash)

Covid-19: Oxford study hint AstraZeneca vaccine effective against Brazil variant

Reuters
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:30 PM IST
The data from a study conducted at the University of Oxford indicates that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC will not need to be modified in order to protect against the Brazilian variant, which is believed to have originated in the Amazonian city of Manaus
Close
Here’s how you can locate Covid-19 on your skin(Twitter/samrinahashmi)
Here’s how you can locate Covid-19 on your skin(Twitter/samrinahashmi)

Here’s how you can locate Covid-19 on your skin

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:41 PM IST
  • As the new coronavirus variants spread and Covid-19 symptoms continue to increase and expand, here’s how you can locate the infection through these four kinds of skin changes
Close
 (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

Were you up all night again? Tips to help you beat 4 am angst

By Vanessa Viegas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:45 PM IST
Arguments you could have navigated better, vital to-dos that you’re not sure you’ve done, the quiet whisperings of an anxious mind — these are a few of our least favourite things
Close
According to a new study, digital solutions including remote monitoring can help chronic pain sufferers manage their pain and reduce the probability of misuse of prescription opioids.(Unsplash)
According to a new study, digital solutions including remote monitoring can help chronic pain sufferers manage their pain and reduce the probability of misuse of prescription opioids.(Unsplash)

Study suggests digital apps can help chronic pain sufferers

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 04:54 PM IST
Health apps have become a popular tool to track fitness, weight loss, sleep, and even menstrual cycles, and now another benefit of using digital applications has come to light.
Close
Natasa Stankovic shares new fitness video(Instagram/natasastankovic__ )
Natasa Stankovic shares new fitness video(Instagram/natasastankovic__ )

Natasa Stankovic's fitness video will serve as motivation for weekend workout

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 04:31 PM IST
  • Natasa Stankovic recently shared a workout video which is a mix of boxing and zumba. The extensive fitness session is inspiring us to stop procrastinating and start our weekend on a healthy note.
Close
Music producer Rudy Willingham's hilarious hack might make kids drink more milk(Instagram/rudy_willingham)
Music producer Rudy Willingham's hilarious hack might make kids drink more milk(Instagram/rudy_willingham)

Music producer Rudy Willingham's hilarious hack might make kids drink more milk

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:31 PM IST
  • Music producer Rudy Willingham recently broke the Internet as he suggested fathers out there to use Beer Bong setup as an innovative feeding technique to make toddlers like his daughter, drink more milk easily without any mess | Watch
Close
Representational Image(Unsplash)
Representational Image(Unsplash)

Doubling masks doesn't reduce chances of coronavirus spread: Japan supercomputer

Reuters, Tokyo, Japan
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:11 PM IST
The findings in part contradict recent recommendations from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that two masks were better than one at reducing a person's exposure to the coronavirus.
Close
Dwayne Johnson(Instagram)
Dwayne Johnson(Instagram)

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson channels Covid-19 lessons into new energy drink

Bloomberg
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:07 PM IST
The megawatt actor and entrepreneur on balancing his time, keeping healthy, and the unexpected benefits of pandemic precautions
Close
While the study does not establish that slow walking is a cause of death, the association persisted across at least nine tumour types.(Unsplash)
While the study does not establish that slow walking is a cause of death, the association persisted across at least nine tumour types.(Unsplash)

Study finds walking pace among cancer survivors may be important for survival

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:08 PM IST
A new study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the National Cancer Institute has identified an association between slow walking pace and an increased risk of death among cancer survivors.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP