Unité mixte de recherche 7235

Beef or fish at the restaurant: information about CO2 emissions and social influence

Intervenant : Sabina Teyssier (INRAE, GAEL)

Abstract: We investigate individuals’ food choices at the restaurant with information about the environmental impact of the meals. We ask whether information about CO2 emissions of the main meal on a restaurant menu alters the choice of guests between beef and sea trout under high or low social influence of other guests around the table. We followed a 2 x 2 design differentiated by the information given or not and the high or low social influence. For guests with the information, they could read on the menu that consuming beef participates more to climate change than consuming sea trout; guests without information had only the meals presented on the menu. For guests with the high social influence, they were allowed to discuss before making their choice of the main meal whereas for guests with the low social influence, they had to choose their main meal without communication with other people around the table. We also asked guests to reply to a short questionnaire about their meal preferences and their expectations regarding other guests’ food choice of the main meal, i.e. the social norm. Experiments were run at the Living lab of the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France, between April and June 2022. In total, 486 guests participated. The results show that the guests’ normative beliefs about the choice of fish as being socially acceptable increase when they receive the information about CO2 emissions which in turn significantly affects the choice of fish. The fish is slightly more chosen when the guests receive the environmental information and are allowed to discuss before ordering, but this effect is not significant. 


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