What is beautiful is good: attractive avatars for healthier dining and satisfaction

Fei Hao, Adil Masud Aman, Chen Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: As technology increasingly integrates into the restaurant industry, avatar servers present a promising avenue for promoting healthier dining habits. Grounded in the halo effect theory and social comparison theory, this study aims to delve into the influence of avatars' appearance, humor and persuasion on healthier choices and customer satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach: This paper comprises three experimental studies. Study 1 manipulates avatar appearance (supermodel-looking vs normal-looking) to examine its effects on perceived attractiveness, warmth and relatability. These factors influence customer satisfaction and healthy food choices through the psychological mechanisms of social comparison and aspirational appeal. Studies 2 and 3 further refine this theoretical model by assessing the interplay of appearance with humor (presence vs absence) and persuasion (health-oriented vs beauty-oriented), respectively. Findings: Results suggest that avatars resembling supermodels evoke stronger aspirational appeal and positive social comparison due to their attractiveness, thus bolstering healthier choices and customer satisfaction. Moreover, humor moderates the relationship between appearance and attractiveness, while persuasion moderates the effects of appearance on social comparison and aspirational appeal. Research limitations/implications: This research bridges the halo effect theory and social comparison theory, offering insights enriching the academic discourse on technology’s role in hospitality. Practical implications: The findings provide actionable insights for managers, tech developers and health advocates. Originality/value: Despite its significance, avatar design research in the hospitality sector has been overlooked. This study addresses this gap, offering a guideline for crafting attractive and persuasive avatars.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Early online date25 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Avatar
  • Halo effect theory
  • Healthy food
  • Hospitality technology
  • Persuasion
  • Social comparison theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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