Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Hospitality Management

First Committee Member

Sarah Tanford

Second Committee Member

Carola Raab

Third Committee Member

Choongbeom Choi

Fourth Committee Member

David Copeland

Number of Pages



This dissertation applied the theory of judgment heuristics to investigate the influence of availability cues on restaurant purchase decisions. Two studies were conducted in which respondents made food choice decisions. In the first study, respondents evaluated menu items in a 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 experimental design that manipulated scarcity cues, bundling, and price. In the second study, respondents evaluated restaurant appeal and menu choice in a 3 × 2 × 2 experiment that manipulated information vividness, message frequency, and price. The results of Study 1 suggest that respondents’ evaluations and purchase intentions can be influenced by scarcity messages communicated by the server but not by scarcity cue that appear on the menu. In the second study, respondents formed favorable expectations of the restaurant and the target menu item when they were exposed to dramatic reviews with storylines. The results of Study 2 demonstrate that the more frequent an item is mentioned in the reviews, the more likely the item is to be purchased. The lack of support for price bundling suggests that in low-price low-risk conditions, it can easily be overpowered by availability cues. The findings of this dissertation provide insights into underlying psychological cues that affect purchase decisions in today’s purchasing environment.


Availability; Decision-Making; Heuristics; Menu Design; Online Reviews; Scarcity


Business Administration, Management, and Operations

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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