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Organic is the new black - Sending and interpreting reputational signals in the context of organic food choices

Puska, Petteri (2019) Organic is the new black - Sending and interpreting reputational signals in the context of organic food choices. PhD thesis. Acta Wasaensia, no. 415. University of Vaasa, Vaasa.

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Document available online at: https://osuva.uwasa.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/8167/978-952-476-845-0.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y


Consumers typically self-report favoring organic food because of tastiness, healthiness, and ethical nature. However, it is possible that they are also favored due to other motives that are socially disapproved of and nonconscious. Through three interlinked articles, the current thesis aims to shed light on the reputational signal value of organic food consumption in various social contexts. The first article examines how activating a nonconscious status-motive influences a preference for organic foods and their senso-emotional experience. When reputational concerns were primed salient, organic options were not only selected more but a food sample served as organic also tasted better. The second article investigates organic food-related status signaling in an intra-male context. Among urban males, but not among rural males, the pro-organic male status-signaler was perceived positively and even treated favorably. The third article explores the social signal value of organic food consumption among consumers with various worldviews. Intriguingly, both consumers who held strong ethical values and those who held conservatism values viewed a presumed organic food favorer as prosocial. The findings contribute to the literatures of prosocial status-signaling and green consumerism. In practice, the results indicate strong status symbolism associated with organic food consumption. Emphasizing reputational issues in their sales environments, for instance, may represent a potential starting-point in efforts to increase the sales of organic foods despite their high prices.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Thesis Type:PhD
Keywords:Organic food, status signaling, prosociality, consumer image, evolutionary psychology, nonconscious behavior
Agrovoc keywords:
organic foods
consumer behaviour
Subjects: Food systems > Markets and trade
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Research affiliation: Finland > Univ. Vaasa
Deposited By: Autio, Ms. Sari
ID Code:32083
Deposited On:02 Apr 2019 14:51
Last Modified:02 Apr 2019 14:51
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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