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Money in the Bank: Feeling Powerful Increases Saving

June 19, 2014 Comments off

Money in the Bank: Feeling Powerful Increases Saving (PDF)
Source: Journal of Consumer Research (forthcoming)

Across five studies, this research reveals that feeling powerful increases saving. This effect is driven by the desire to maintain one’s current state. When the purpose of saving is no longer to accumulate money but to spend it on a status-related product, the basic effect is reversed, and those who feel powerless save more. Further, if money can no longer aid in maintaining one’s current state because power is already secure or because power is maintained by accumulating an alternative resource (i.e., knowledge), the effect of feeling powerful on saving disappears. These findings are discussed in light of their implications for research on power and financial decision making.

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The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity

June 11, 2014 Comments off

The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity (PDF)
Source: Journal of Consumer Research

This research examines how people react to nonconforming behaviors, such as entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothes rather than an elegant outfit or wearing red sneakers in a professional setting. Nonconforming behaviors, as costly and visible signals, can act as a particular form of conspicuous consumption and lead to positive inferences of status and competence in the eyes of others. A series of studies demonstrates that people confer higher status and competence to nonconforming rather than conforming individuals. These positive inferences derived from signals of nonconformity are mediated by perceived autonomy and moderated by individual differences in need for uniqueness in the observers. An investigation of boundary conditions demonstrates that the positive inferences disappear when the observer is unfamiliar with the environment, when the nonconforming behavior is depicted as unintentional, and in the absence of expected norms and shared standards of formal conduct.

The ‘Visual Preference Heuristic’: The Influence of Visual versus Verbal Depiction on Assortment Processing, Perceived Variety, and Choice Overload

December 20, 2013 Comments off

The ‘Visual Preference Heuristic’: The Influence of Visual versus Verbal Depiction on Assortment Processing, Perceived Variety, and Choice Overload
Source: Journal of Consumer Research

The “visual preference heuristic” suggests that consumers prefer visual to verbal depiction of information in a product assortment. Images produce greater perceptions of variety than text, which is appealing in assortment selection, but can result in choice complexity and overload when choice sets are large and preferences are unknown, suggesting a moderator for Iyengar and Lepper’s results. Eye-tracking results reveal that the natural gestalt processing of individual visual stimuli, as compared to the piecemeal processing of individual textual stimuli, affects the processing of the assortment as a whole with visual (compared to verbal) presentation facilitating a faster, though more haphazard, scanning of the assortment. While the less systematic processing that results from visual presentation feels easier, it is not ideal for larger assortments resulting in higher complexity ratings and choice overload than with text depiction. These findings reveal that, like many heuristics, preference for visual depiction may be overapplied.

See: Online Shopping Choices: Less Is Sometimes Better Than More (Knowledge@Wharton)

How Happiness Impacts Choice

December 16, 2011 Comments off

How Happiness Impacts Choice (PDF)
Source: Journal of Consumer Research (forthcoming)

Consumers want to be happy, and marketers are increasingly trying to appeal to consumers’ pursuit of happiness. However, the results of six studies reveal that what happiness means varies, and consumers’ choices reflect those differences. In some cases happiness is defined as feeling excited, and in other cases happiness is defined as feeling calm. The type of happiness pursued is determined by one’s temporal focus, such that individuals tend to choose more exciting options when focused on the future, and more calming options when focused on the present moment. These results suggest that the definition of happiness, and consumers’ resulting choices, are dynamic and malleable.

See also: The Shifting Meaning of Happiness (PDF; Social Psychological and Personality Science)

See: Are We Happy Yet? The Unexpected Links Between Happiness and Choice (Stanford Graduate School of Business)

Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption

June 16, 2011 Comments off

Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption (PDF)
Source: Journal of Consumer Research

While theories of signaling and conspicuous consumption suggest that more explicit markers facilitate communication, this article examines the utility of subtle signals. Four studies demonstrate that while less explicit branding increases the likelihood of misidentification (e.g., observers confusing a high-end purchase for a cheaper alternative), people with more cultural capital in a particular domain prefer subtle signals because they provide differentiation from the mainstream. Such insiders have the necessary connoisseurship to decode the meaning of subtle signals that facilitate communication with others “in the know.” Consistent with the notion that these effects are driven by outward communication, they are stronger in identityrelevant product domains and situations where consumption is more public. This work highlights the communication value of less explicit signals and discusses the implications for branding, signal persistence, and the communication of identity.

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