Spread or Stacked? Vertical Versus Horizontal Food Presentation, Portion Size Perceptions, and Consumption

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Journal of Business Research

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This research investigates the unexplored consequences of food presentation on consumers' portion size perceptions and consumption. The findings show that consumers perceive portions as smaller and eat more when foods are presented vertically (i.e., stacked on the plate) versus horizontally (i.e., spread across the plate). The effect of presentation on portion size perceptions occurs because consumers use the surface area of the portion as a heuristic for overall portion size and, for equal volumes of food, portions presented vertically have a smaller surface area. Surface area is used as a heuristic for overall portion size presumably because (1) when looking down at a plate of food on a dining table, the surface area of the portion is more salient than the height and (2) through experience consumers learn that the surface area of the portion is often positively correlated with overall portion size. The results of this research underscore the importance of food presentation and identify viewing angle as a factor to consider when evaluating portion size.



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