- Who is Your Research Focused At?
- Who Sponsors Your Research?
- Why do You Study Only Food Consumption and Grocery Store Behavior?
- Do You Think Consumers are Smart or Dumb?
- Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for story ideas?
It is aimed at helping consumers become more responsible in eating small quantities of more nutritious foods. All of our work is focused at the consumption of food at home or the purchase of it in the supermarket. Although this research is mainly read by academics – professors of nutritional science, marketing, psychology, and consumer economics – it is often reported to consumers through print and broadcast journalists. While 80% of the studies are reported in consumer–oriented publications or in general publications, about 20% is reported in the trade–press. In the TV reporting of our research (20/20, CBS News, The Learning Channel, BBC and so on), 100% is focused on the consumers.
About 90% comes from grants and 10% from private foundations and gifts. Recently, the bulk of the grants have been from the Attorney General, the Council for Agricultural Research, IMBA, and the Sandage Charitable Trust. In addition, proceeds from speaking honorariums and from book royalties go to the Wansink Education Fund which is used to fund graduate students during the summer and to provide seed funding for exploratory projects which we believe hold future promise.
Few factors can have a greater impact on welfare and on health than getting people around the world to eat less and to eat healthier. That's why we focus on the factors that can decrease consumption volume, and that's why we focus on encouraging the consumption of healthy foods, such as soy. In addition to this, being born and raised in the farm country of western Iowa (Woodbury County) has always led me to focus on food. We planted it, we played in it, and we sold it. Food was the basis of my dissertation at Stanford. It is why I eventually started the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois in 1992 and moved it to Cornell University in the Spring of 2005, when I joined the Department of Applied Economics and Management.
Smart. Smarter than most people give them credit for being. Are there small things (like supermarket signs or packaging or ads) that cause consumers to do "dumb" things? Sure. Is it worth it for a consumer to be so overly vigilant that he or she never makes a mistake? No. What I hope we can do is to give consumers "short cuts" and "rules–of–thumb" that can make them smarter shoppers without having to spend too much time thinking about it.
Nearly every piece of original research on the web–site is accompanied with a summery (which is generally a modified Press Release). The results of these studies on topics such as stockpiling, bulk buying, packaging, labeling, and so on are pretty much timeless. (Unlike the yesterday's news, yesterday's research findings in the social sciences are still relevant).
The general topics noted under research areas on the home page offer specific topics that can "jump start" some story ideas by offering more general themes that may be worth writing about. Here is an overview of some of the general themes.
Beating Mindless Eating: Most of us don't overeat because we're hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, and other environmental factors. We investigate how these factors influence us and how to make them work for us rather than against us.
Restaurant Confidential: Restaurants are filled with booby–traps the cause us to overeat. These include glasses, plates, and menu descriptions.
Smarter Lunchrooms: Using behavioral economics we explore how small low–cost changes in the lunchroom can encourage individuals to choose healthier foods.