Exploring the roles of physical effort and visual salience within the proximity effect

Journal article


Knowles, D., Brown, K. G. and Aldrovandi, S. (2019). Exploring the roles of physical effort and visual salience within the proximity effect. Appetite. 145, p. 104489. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104489
AuthorsKnowles, D., Brown, K. G. and Aldrovandi, S.
Abstract

Background
Recent work has explored the effectiveness of the Proximity Effect, where increasing the physical distance between consumer and snacks reduces intake. Foods requiring less effort to attain, or being more visually appealing, are seen to be consumed more. Relatedly, perceived effort and visual salience are suggested mechanisms for the proximity effect, but no prior studies have directly manipulated these in association with the effect. Two between-subjects studies conducted in university laboratories are presented.

Method
Twenty chocolate brownies that were either wrapped or unwrapped (Study 1, N = 85), or 250g of M&M's, either colourful or plain brown (Study 2, N = 80), were presented as effort and salience manipulations respectively to participants at either 20 cm or 70 cm. Consumption was measured as ‘likelihood of consumption’ (Yes/No) and ‘actual consumption’ (units/grams). Potential moderating variables including perceived effort and perceived visual salience were also measured.

Results
Likelihood of consumption was positively predicted by perceived visual salience in both Studies, and by distance in Study 2. Significant main effects of distance, p < .001, ȵ2 = 0.102 (20 cm > 70 cm), effort, p < .001, ȵ2 = 0.089 (unwrapped > wrapped), and distance × effort interaction, p = .003, ȵ2 = 0.111, were observed in Study 1 for actual consumption. A main effect of distance was found in Study 2 for actual consumption, p < .001, ȵ2 = 0.062 (20 cm > 70 cm). Perceived visual salience positively correlated with actual consumption in both Studies.

Conclusions
Increasing physical effort and placing snacks further away appear to act independently and interactively to reduce snack consumption. Manipulating snack colour does not appear to influence consumption, whereas perceptions of visual salience appear to influence consumption. As such, perceived visual salience and physical effort are thought to be key mechanisms underpinning the proximity effect.

Year2019
JournalAppetite
Journal citation145, p. 104489
PublisherElsevier
ISSN1095-8304
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104489
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104489
Publication dates
Print15 Oct 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted10 Oct 2019
Deposited20 Nov 2023
Accepted author manuscript
License
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Open
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