What’s in a Name? Do Labels Influence People’s Liking for Cookies?

(1) Murchison Middle School, Austin, Texas, (2) Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas

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Research shows that if a food product is labeled with a fancy name, people like it more than they would otherwise. Similarly, some people tend to think of healthy foods as less satisfying. The purpose of this study was to extend previous research on the effects of labels on people’s preference for certain foods using a cookie taste test. It was predicted that cookies with a fancy label (“Grandma’s favorite recipe”) would be rated higher than cookies with a plain label (“Chocolate chip cookie”), and that cookies with a healthy label (“Low-fat, 80-calorie cookie”) would be rated the lowest. To test this prediction, 72 participants (57 women, 15 men) tasted and rated a cookie with one of the three different labels. The results showed that there were no significant differences in the rating for the cookies with the fancy label (M = 7.55), the plain label (M = 6.85), or the healthy label (M = 7.58). Although cookie ratings did not vary significantly as a function of label in the current study, previous research has shown that labels do influence how much people like certain foods.

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