Do Political Attitudes Affect Consumer Choice? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Study with Genetically Modified Bread in Switzerland

Sustainability, Vol. 3, No. 9, pp. 1555-1572, 2011

18 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2011

See all articles by Philipp Aerni

Philipp Aerni

Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CCRS) at the University of Zurich

Date Written: September 28, 2011

Abstract

Independent of the left-right model of ideological structure, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food and agriculture are resented across the political spectrum in Switzerland. In the absence of any real experience with genetically modified (GM) food but faced with continuous exposure to warning messages in the media, conditioned feelings related to such a politically sensitive product may have a significant influence on revealed consumer choice. In our large-scale field study, we examined this assumption by selling three types of bread labeled as ‘made with organic corn’, ‘made with genetically modified corn’ and ‘made with conventional corn’ respectively in five locations across Switzerland using different price scenarios and selling groups. Customers who decided to buy bread also received an envelope containing a questionnaire about their prior political attitude expressed through their voting decision in a national referendum on a five-year ban on GMOs in 2005. The results demonstrate that consumer purchase decisions are determined by contextual factors not captured by general political attitudes. Surprisingly, the mere presence of GM food did have a positive impact on overall sales. The assumption that consumers would feel turned off by the mere presence of GM food for political reasons can therefore be safely discarded.

Keywords: field study, GM food, revealed consumer behavior, political preference, freedom of choice, mental construal, conditioned feelings

JEL Classification: A00, C9, D4, D6, D7, D8, E2, F10, H23, H40, I18, I20, L21, M31, Q3, Q52, Q1

Suggested Citation

Aerni, Philipp, Do Political Attitudes Affect Consumer Choice? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Study with Genetically Modified Bread in Switzerland (September 28, 2011). Sustainability, Vol. 3, No. 9, pp. 1555-1572, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1934713

Philipp Aerni (Contact Author)

Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CCRS) at the University of Zurich ( email )

Zähringerstrasse 24
Zurich, CH-8001
Switzerland
044 634 40 60 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ccrs.uzh.ch/en/organization/people/pa.html

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