Can you afford a nudge? A comparison between two grocery shopping interventions and the moderation effect of an activated saving goal.
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People of relatively lower socio-economic statuses (SES) are not able to benefit effectively from traditional healthy eating interventions that employ education and information campaigns, yet they stay as a high-risk group to overweight and obesity. By pre-selecting healthier options as defaults, people of low SES may be automatically nudged toward healthier food choices. Questions remain whether a pre-selection will still be effective when it aids a healthy eating goal but hinders a money saving goal that is commonly active among groups of low SES. The current study therefore examined the effectiveness of a pre-selection and a price reduction on healthy food choices between two groups with either an activated or a non-activated saving goal. Data of healthy food choices was collected via an online grocery shopping survey in the Netherlands. Participants (18-66 years, N = 283) were randomly assigned to a goal priming task followed by a second random assignment to three conditions: a pre-selection, a price reduction and a control. They were asked to choose preferred products between two pictures, for a total of thirty choices per condition. Results of ANOVA analyses showed that compared to the control condition, a price reduction significantly increased healthy food choices whereas a pre-selection did not. The saving goal activation did not moderate the relationship between intervention types and healthy choices, but pre-existing health goals predicted healthy choices. These findings confirm theoretical accounts of the importance of an active, compatible goal in making healthy food choices and suggests that interventions could develop strategies to resolve the dilemma between health and price in making healthy food decisions.