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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

Are food choices really habitual? Integrating habits, variety seeking and compensatory choice in a utility maximizing framework

Publication Abstract

Adamowicz, Wiktor, and Joffre Dan Swait Jr. 2013. "Are food choices really habitual? Integrating habits, variety seeking and compensatory choice in a utility maximizing framework." American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 95(1): 17-41.

Given the large number of food choices that consumers make each day it seems likely that they will adopt decision strategies that minimize cognitive effort. To examine this issue, we develop a conceptual and empirical model of habitual choice, and the factors that result in transitions to two strategies other than habitual selection: utility-maximizing choice and a variety-seeking strategy. Our approach provides an alternative to traditional state dependence methods used in this type of panel data. We apply this framework to the choice of two food products that illustrate the heterogeneity across types of products in decision strategies and routine choice patterns.

DOI:10.1093/ajae/aas078 (Full Text)

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