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Valuation of Objects Versus Images: The Extent to which Real Object Displays Influence Consumer Decision Making
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Recent research has shown that behavioral and brain responses are different for real objects versus pictures of the same items. This project tests whether the display format (real objects versus images) in which foods are viewed influences consumer decision making. After bidding on items, participants viewed the same items, with a subset replaced by real objects. They then had to choose between several pairs of images that had equal initial value, but were previously presented as different display types. Real food objects were hypothesized to elicit higher value as measured by monetary bids because they present the observer with the potential for physical interaction (whereas images do not). However, the results did not reveal a significant effect of presentation format: real objects and images did not differ for high-valued items, and objects were surprisingly chosen less than images for low-valued items. The factors contributing to these effects and their implications are discussed. For the conditions tested, the results suggest that real world objects may primarily bias consumer choices against items – by adversely affecting choices for items that are not highly valued while not promoting choices for items that are valued.