Frequently dine out? People who often go out to eat may face trouble in maintaining their food budget, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has warned.
People who dined out frequently tended to under-estimate the amount they would spend during a week of eating out and then raise the following week's dining-out budget, said Amit Sharma of Pennsylvania State University in the US.
Rather than making people smarter consumers, frequent eating out may be associated with their inability to impose mental constraints on buying, he added.
Researchers recruited 60 dual-parent families who did not keep a written budget and divided them into two groups: a treatment group and a control group.
Data on the participants' eating-out behaviour was collected over a two-week period. Online survey questionnaires and cell phone text messages were used to collect data from the subjects.
The treatment group was asked to declare a budget for eating out at the end of the first week and at the end of the second week.
"What we saw consistently throughout the study was that when people reported their dining-out budget for the second time during the experiment, it was significantly higher than what they stated the first time," said Sharma.
"What this tells us is that obviously they thought they would spend less in a week, but as the week progressed they realised they were spending a lot more and they rationalised that increase," he added.
The study was published in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research.