Choosing More Food for Others



Consumers’ portion size choices are important, both because portion sizes are a major contributor to obesity and because such choices can contribute to food waste. Yet existing research has largely focused on consumers’ portion size choices for themselves - even though consumers often choose for others. Sixteen studies examine portion size choices for others, testing: Do consumers choose larger or smaller portion sizes for others, compared to various benchmarks - (1) how much they choose for themselves, (2) how much others want to receive, and (3) predictions about how much others actually want to eat? Studies show that consumers choose larger portion sizes for others across multiple choosing-for-others contexts, involving everyday favors, joint consumption, and gift-giving. Consumers’ goal to be polite (i.e., considerate of others’ needs) given uncertainty about others’ consumption is one driver of this phenomenon. Supporting this account, consumers do not choose larger portion sizes for others when they lack a politeness goal, when choosing larger portions is impolite, or when a responsibility goal in the caregiving context instead dominates. This research thus offers theoretical implications for understanding choices for others and portion size choices and practical implications in identifying a potential cause of over-eating, food waste, or both.

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