Semester of Graduation

Fall 2021

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Edible insects are a new sustainable protein source compared to meat. Western consumers show aversion to the prospect of insects as food due to unfamiliarity, food neophobia, and negative emotions. This dissertation research explored consumers’ emotional perception of insect-based food products presented under different testing conditions and examined the influence of other people’s emotional expressions towards consumers’ purchase decisions. To identify and rate emotion intensities, tests were conducted using three presenting formats including text, image, and an actual product; all of which were applied for both cookies containing insects and without insects. In addition to these presenting formats, news of celebrity promoting entomophagy and a photo of a package of this cookie product were presented along with six information statements for insect-based food to explore consumers’ willingness-to-try (WTT), acceptance, and purchase intent. Videos of facial expression with positive-, negative-, and/or sensation seeking (SSE)- related emotions, which were validated by the manikin scale, were applied to explore consumers’ emotional response when they tasted insect-containing cookies, and further analyzed for relationship between consumers’ emotion perception and their purchase decision. Results confirmed that insect-based food evoked stronger negative emotions than food without insects. The concept of food containing insects also elicited strong SSE-related emotions by consumers. Presenting with photos of cookies induced different emotional intensity between males and females, whereas when presenting an actual cookie, no significant difference was found between food containing insects and without insects. Acceptance, WTT, and purchase intent also reached the highest scores when consumers were served with the actual cookie, followed by presenting with packaging. Information statements of health benefit and sustainability pertaining to insect consumption significantly increased acceptance, WTT, and purchase intent, while specifying an insect name (aka., cricket) and its percentage (5%) in the cookies decreased them. After being informed of the sustainability benefits of entomophagy, males rated significantly higher on acceptance scores than females. WTT firmly affected purchase intent; one unit increase on WTT led to a 65% increase in purchase intent. The SSE-related stimuli elicited the highest arousal intensity among all three emotions. Negative stimuli caused a significant drop in WTT. In general, males rated higher on liking and purchase intent than females. Overall, this dissertation demonstrated that different testing conditions along with different questionnaire formats and gender differences significantly affected consumer perception toward insect-based food products.

Date

11-2-2021

Committee Chair

Prinyawiwatku, Witoon

Available for download on Thursday, December 01, 2022

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