Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 23 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Julia M. Hormes

Committee Members

Drew Anderson


choice architecture, default option, food insecurity, obesity, Poor, Food, Grocery shopping, Food habits, Nutrition, Food security

Subject Categories

Nutrition | Psychology


There is a need for sustainable interventions that improve diet-related health within the food insecure community. We examined if use of a “default” prefilled online grocery shopping cart, compared to nutrition education, would result in the purchase of healthier food items. Fifty participants (M age = 46.4 ± 12.46 years; M body mass index = 28.59 ± 6.48 kg/m2; 74.0% male) were randomized to: (1) read a brochure containing nutrition information (n = 23) or (2) be presented with a “default” prefilled online shopping cart containing groceries that meet nutritional guidelines to which they could freely make changes before completing their grocery purchase (n = 27). Compared to education, the default condition resulted in a significant increase in the purchases of servings of whole grain (p < .001, ηp2 = .38), fruit (p < .001, ηp2 = .37) and vegetables (p < .001, ηp2 = .25), daily fiber (p < .001, ηp2 = .23), and a decrease in average daily calories (p < .001, ηp2 = .25), daily grams of fat (p < .001, ηp2 = .48), saturated fat (p < .001, ηp2 = .47), and daily sodium (p < .001, ηp2 = .26) and cholesterol content (p < .001, ηp2 = .29). This study suggests that a default approach may help improve food choice behaviors in food insecure individuals with significant financial constraints. The default intervention is a non-monetary nudge towards healthy and economical food choices that is sustainable and broadly scalable via online platforms.