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Three essays on consumer behavior and food risks Open Access


Other title
decision strategy
GM food
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Ding, Yulian
Supervisor and department
Adamowicz, Wiktor (Rural Economy)
Veeman, Michele (Rural Economy)
Examining committee member and department
Hobbs, Jill (Bioresource Policy, Business & Economics, University of Saskatchewan)
Young, Denise (Economics)
Cash, Sean (Consumer Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Anders, Sven (Rural Economy)
Rural Economy

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This thesis examines consumer behavior towards food risks in three different papers, focusing on two food concerns: genetically modified (GM) food and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The first paper investigates the roles of different measures of trust on consumers’ stated choices for functional GM/nonGM canola oil products. These analyses show that consumers’ choices for GM/nonGM canola oil are influenced by both generalized trust and trust in food institutions. In general, trusting people are less likely to be in the group of respondents that can be characterized as being anti-GM; trusting people also tend to place a lower discount on the presence of a GM attribute. The second paper focuses on the modeling of consumers’ choices of foods with potential health and risk attributes. The analysis extends the linear compensatory utility model by allowing for use of attribute cutoffs in decision making. We find evidence that attribute cutoffs are commonly used by decision makers. Further, incorporating attribute cutoffs into the modeling of consumers’ choices significantly improved the model fit. This paper also examines a potential problem of endogeneity that may be associated with respondents’ self-reported cutoffs. Model estimates based on self-reported cutoffs differ substantially from those based on predicted cutoffs (where these are based on respondents’ demographic characteristics); potential reasons include the possibility that self-reported cutoffs may be endogenous. The third paper reports the impacts of habit and trust on consumers’ responses to a series of three BSE incidents in Canada. We observe that households’ reactions to the first two BSE events followed a similar pattern: households reduced their beef expenditure shares following the BSE announcements, but these subsequently recovered. We find that habit persistence reduced some households’ initial negative reactions to the first BSE incident, but that these households modified their beef consumption habits following recurring BSE incidents. Assessing the impacts of trust on households’ reactions to these BSE incidents, we find that trust tended to offset the negative effects of recurring BSE cases.
License granted by Yulian Ding ( on 2010-09-17T18:08:49Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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