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Journal of Consumer Behaviour (2019)

Published August 15, 2019

Consumers lack awareness and concern of potential adverse reactions, interactions, and inappropriate usage associated with dietary supplements.

Lay Theories and Consumer Perceptions of Dietary Supplements  Published in the  Journal of Consumer Behaviour (July 26, 2019) 

Consumers lack awareness and concern of potential adverse reactions, interactions, and inappropriate usage associated with dietary supplements. The lack of strict governmental regulation of supplements accompanied by consumers’ lack of knowledge often results in them relying on ordinary lay (naïve) beliefs and theories when making supplement-based decisions. An accessibility-diagnosticity framework is used to explore the impact of two lay theories/beliefs on consumers’ perceptions and judgments of dietary supplements. Findings show that when a “less is more” lay theory is primed, supplement form (single- versus multiple ingredient) is a diagnostic cue. Specifically, consumers perceive that multi-ingredient supplements possess more severe adverse side effects compared to single-ingredient supplements. In the presence of a “no pain, no gain” mindset, supplement form was not diagnostic in the decision process and a disclaimer intervention that draws attention to the lack of government regulation and testing of supplements was ineffective at influencing perceived side effect severity and attitude. The data confirm that lay theories impact dietary supplement decision making and that the observed effects are consistent with an accessibility-diagnosticity framework.

Implications for public policy are also discussed.

Contact Email: Aivanna.Padilla@csulb.edu