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Soft Paternalism in the Supermarket Aisle

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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3 Responses

  1. Nate Oman says:

    Can this sort of a system create liability for the supermarket? For example, are they warranting the healthiness of the foods that they rate highly? To what extent can I rely on their statements?

  2. Sigivald says:

    I don’t think I’ll be paying much attention to “star” rankings of overall “healthiness”, with the methodology being unknown.

    Plus, CSPI is on the side of the star rankings, which in my experience might as well be an endorsement by Molotov and von Ribbentrop, so to speak.

    (Which nutritionists decided that salt was bad? What’s salt do to you that’s so bad unless you already have high blood pressure?

    I mean, salt-per-100 calories? And these people are supposed to be nutritionists?)

    I’d take the claim that they don’t want people to avoid no-star ratings more seriously if the ranking was 1-4, not 0-3.

    “No stars” and “One star” tell very different stories, psychologically – and the people that came up with this ranking system aren’t marketers or psychologists. (I mean, who came up with the display system, not the means of categorisation. The nutritionists can probably manage a 4-way division well enough, though I’m not sure they’re realistic about it. But how to show that 4-way division is not something nutritionists have any special qualifications for.)

    Maybe they had no intent to cause an avoidance of the lowest-ranked items, but they sure came up with a mechanism to produce it, anyway.

  3. Paul Gowder says:

    Wait, if they’re patenting it, don’t they have to disclose the method?