Three essays on consumer behavior and food risks

  • Author / Creator
    Ding, Yulian
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Cash, Sean (Consumer Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    • Anders, Sven (Rural Economy)
    • Young, Denise (Economics)
    • Hobbs, Jill (Bioresource Policy, Business & Economics, University of Saskatchewan)