Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Jennifer Harris, Dr. Michael Copenhaver, Dr. Tricia Leahey

Field of Study

Health Promotion


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Products with health-related claims that are perceived to be tasty are more likely to be purchase by consumers than products without a claim. Restrained eaters rely more on external cues such as food packaging rather than internal cues such as hunger signals in a way to control their caloric intake.1,2 Restrained eaters may be more susceptible to marketing and food claims compared to non-restrained eaters. We propose a guilt free message will affect perception of healthfulness. We also propose a guilt free message and eating restraint will affect purchasing decisions. Lastly, perception of healthfulness and valuing nutritious products mediates the relationship between condition and restraint on purchase intention. According to a two (restrained or non-restrained) by two (guilt free versus control) factorial design, an online sample of 318 females in the United States between the ages of 30-60 were recruited to participate in a survey. Herman and Polivy's Revised 1980 Eating Restraint Scale was used to categorize participants as a restrained or non-restrained eater.3 Participants were randomly assigned to view a novel product with a guilt free claim or the control. The survey included questions about perception of healthfulness, purchase intention, and amount willing to pay (main outcome variables). After t-test analysis, participants rated guilt free as more healthful than the control t(316)=2.22, p=0.03. MANOVAs were used to assess the effect of restraint and condition on the purchase intention and amount willing to pay. The interactions were nonsignificant. Perception of healthfulness of the product and valuing nutritious products were mediators of restraint and condition on purchase intention (R2= 0.28). These findings inform that guilt free messages are misleading to consumers and may influence perceived healthfulness, purchase intention, and the amount willing to pay.

Major Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Harris