I’ll have what they’re having - a descriptive social norm increases choice for vegetables in students

Social information, such as norms, influences behavior. Descriptive norms can be used to guide behavior toward healthier choices. Here, we examined the effect of a descriptive norm on the choice between two similar products (vegetables or fruits). Participants were exposed to a norm promoting vegetables, fruits, or no norm in a remote confederate design. A descriptive norm signaling that a greater proportion of previous participants had chosen a vegetable over a fruit basket tripled the odds of participants choosing vegetables. We found no to small effects of norms on intentions to consume fruits and vegetables or on taste expectations and experiences in a taste test. These findings suggest that descriptive norms may serve as a heuristic to guide food choices in certain choice settings involving similar options.