Stigmatized ingredients present a problem for manufacturers, as fears surrounding foods limit the range of products the public will accept. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a commonly stigmatized ingredient, despite it being consistently deemed safe for human consumption by experts. This study examined three strategies for correcting the stigmatization of MSG. Using three treatments and a control condition, the study compares the effectiveness of different corrective communication strategies using a test-retest design. Results from 1308 participants presents strong evidence that providing factual information in the form of a rational appeal is a highly effective strategy for increasing the willingness and likelihood of consuming MSG. The findings demonstrate that an endorsement from a celebrity (in this research Chef Heston Blumenthal) as a form of emotional appeal is less effective at improving such perceptions. The study also tests for a minority 'backlash' effect among some participants, whose misperceptions may strengthen in the face of disconfirming evidence. The implications for improved food labeling and consumer wellbeing are discussed.
- Corrective communication
- Stigmatized ingredient