Innovation Seminar Series

Functional Food Choices: Impact of Trust and Health Attitudes

Presented by Michele Veeman, Professor Emerita in Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology (REES) University of Alberta.


Using data from a cross-Canada survey which includes a stated choice experiment, this study investigates how personality traits, including trust and health locus of control belief, affect consumers’ decision-making in the context of choices of a canola oil which has functional benefits (enhanced omega-3) when this may be derived from modern agricultural biotechnology. We find that trusting consumers perceive lower levels of risk of GM food than consumers who are not trusting. We also find evidence that health locus of control affects respondents’ food choices in their purchases of organic food. Incorporating trust and health locus of control into analysis of Canadian consumers’ stated choices for functional canola oil suggests that these personality traits have significant impacts on consumers’ valuation of the healthy and risky attributes associated with a functional GM food. Trust tends to offset negative perceptions of GM food, while respondents with a strong belief in internal control over health tend to place more value on enhanced omega 3 content.