In this study we shed light on an unknown area of research: whether the price paid for a meal influenced consumers’ perceptions of fullness, and feelings of guilt and regret about how much they ate. This has implications for consumers, restaurants and public health.
A field experiment was conducted in which diners at an AYCE restaurant were either charged $4 or $8 for an Italian lunch buffet. Following lunch, participants rated dimensions such as physical discomfort, the degree they felt they overate, and guilt.
139 total individuals who came to the restaurant alone (n = 8), in groups of two (n = 52) and in groups of three or four (n = 43) and five and over (n = 30) are participated to the study. Out of participants who ate at least one piece of pizza and were included to our analysis (n = 95), 49 of them were male and 46 of them were female, the mean age was 44.11, the mean height was 67.58 in., and the mean weight was 181.61 lb. The results were analyzed using a 2x3 between groups ANOVA. Diners who paid $4 for their buffet rated themselves as physically more uncomfortable and had eaten more than they should have compared to the diners who paid $8 for the buffet (p < 0.05). However, diners who paid $4 for their buffet gave higher ratings to overeating, feelings of guilt and physical discomfort than the diners who paid $8 for the buffet, even if they ate the exact same number of pieces.
Paying less for an AYCE experience has a number of surprising consequences; lower paying diners feel themselves as more physically uncomfortable and guiltier compared to the higher paying diners, even when they ate the same amount.