Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fair Trade Frolics

This is just remarkable. Mr. Overwater did convince me of the importance people on the left attach to good intentions, regardless of whether the consequences are actually good. I think that is a big explanation of the popularity of "fair trade": I am paying more for this, an act of sacrifice and therefore of virtue. The fact that essentially none of the money actually makes it to the farmers is beside the point. I sacrificed, and therefore I am a good person.

But it's bizarre that people actually think the fair trade scam makes food healthier, or that it has fewer calories. Wow. You bedwetters believe that whatever lame secular god you worship will bless you with thinness, because you performed the good work of paying more for regular old coffee that happens to have a "fair trade" label on it.

The “Fair Trade” Effect: Health Halos From Social Ethics Claims

Jonathon Schuldt, Dominique Muller & Norbert Schwarz
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract: The authors provide evidence that social ethics claims on food packaging (e.g., fair trade) can promote the misperception that foods are lower-calorie and therefore appropriate for greater consumption. In Study 1, participants evaluating chocolate provided lower calorie judgments when it was described as fair trade — a claim silent on calorie content but signifying that trading partners received just compensation for their work. Further establishing this effect, Study 2 revealed that chocolate was perceived as lower-calorie when a company was simply described as treating its workers ethically (e.g., providing excellent wages and health care) as opposed to unethically (e.g., providing poor wages and no health care) among perceivers with strong ethical food values, consistent with halo logic. Moreover, calorie judgments mediated the same interaction pattern on recommendations of consumption frequency, suggesting that amid the ongoing obesity crisis, social ethics claims might nudge some perceivers to overindulge. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

1 comment:

Brad Hutchings said...

This reminds me of the working title of an early draft of Robert Cialdini's Influence: Science and Practice. It was called People: Dumber than Bricks. j/k

But seriously... The marketers hawking "Fair Trade" products already knew this. That's why it's a gold mine.