This dispels a previous theory that said that, with more space, a shopping cart means that buyers increase their chances of getting things they either don't need or have little nutritional value.
However, the study, which was conducted by a group of European professors from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, Loughborough School of Business and Economics in the United Kingdom, and K.U. Leuven in Belgium, indicates that space has little to do with the results. Instead, according to a report on the research published on TIME.com, it's because of how "the basket shopper must flex their arm [while] carrying the groceries." The researchers say that because shoppers' arms are strained while carrying a basket, they are "more likely to pick up vice products such as candy and soda, apparently as some sort of unconscious counterbalance to the hassles of carrying a shopping basket." As no arm flexor muscles are used in pushing a cart, shoppers are free to make their shopping decisions without any influence from physical stress.
The results were derived from several methodologies, including following shoppers and noting the purchases they made and handing shoppers a grocery list where they chose between snacks that were healthy (fruit) and unhealthy (candy and chocolate bars). In both instances, the researchers noted that shoppers using baskets opted for food choices that had little nutritional value.
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(Photo by PolyCart via Flickr Creative Commons)
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