Journal of Consumer Research
February 7, 2012





Featured Media Mentions

Journal of Consumer Research
Ahead of Print Highlights

Super Size Me: Product Size as a Signal of Status

David Dubois
Derek D. Rucker
Adam D. Galinsky

This research proposes that consumers' preference for supersized food and drinks may have roots in the status-signaling value of larger options. An initial experiment found that consumers view larger-sized options within a set as having greater status. Because low-power consumers desire status, the authors manipulated power to test the core propositions. Whether induced in the lab or in the field, states of powerlessness led individuals to disproportionately choose larger food options from an assortment. Furthermore, this preference for larger-sized options was enhanced when consumption was public, reversed when the size-to-status relationship was negative (i.e., smaller was equated with greater status), and mediated by consumers' need for status. This research demonstrates that choosing a product on the basis of its relative size allows consumers to signal status, illustrates the consequences of such a choice for consumers' food consumption, and highlights the central role of a product category's size-to-status relationship in driving consumer choice.


DOI: 10.1086/661890
Electronically published August 17, 2011

Selected Media Mentions

The Atlantic
New York Times
TIME Healthland
Boost Your Status: Supersize Your Drink
When do consumers try to increase social standing by eating too much?

Tell Me What I Did Wrong: Experts Seek and Respond to Negative Feedback

Stacey R. Finkelstein
Ayelet Fishbach

A large proportion of marketing communication concerns feedback to consumers. This article explores what feedback people seek and respond to. The authors predict and find a shift from positive to negative feedback as people gain expertise. The authors document this shift in a variety of domains, including feedback on language acquisition, pursuit of environmental causes, and use of consumer products. Across these domains, novices sought and responded to positive feedback, and experts sought and responded to negative feedback. The authors examine a motivational account for the shift in feedback: positive feedback increased novices' commitment, and negative feedback increased experts' sense that they were making insufficient progress.


DOI: 10.1086/661934
Electronically published September 2, 2011

Enjoy! Hedonic Consumption and Compliance with Assertive Messages

Ann Kronrod
Amir Grinstein
Luc Wathieu

This paper examines the persuasiveness of assertive language (as in Nike's slogan "Just do it") as compared to nonassertive language (as in Microsoft's slogan "Where do you want to go today?"). Previous research implies that assertive language should reduce consumer compliance. Two experiments show that assertiveness is more effective in communications involving hedonic products, as well as hedonically advertised utilitarian products. This prediction builds on sociolinguistic research addressing relationships between mood, communication expectations, and compliance to requests. A third experiment reaffirms the role of linguistic expectations by showing that an unknown product advertised using assertive language is more likely to be perceived as hedonic.


DOI: 10.1086/661933
Electronically published August 17, 2011

$29 for 70 Items or 70 Items for $29? How Presentation Order Affects Package Perceptions

Rajesh Bagchi
Derick F. Davis

When consumers consider a package (multi-item) price, which presentation order is more appealing, price first ($29 for 70 items) or item quantity first (70 items for $29)? Will this depend on package size (larger [70 items] vs. smaller [7 items]) or unit price calculation difficulty (higher [$29 for 70 items] vs. lower [$20 for 50 items])? Why? Three studies demonstrate how presentation order affects package evaluations and choice under different levels of package size and unit price calculation difficulty. The first piece of information becomes salient and affects evaluations when packages are larger and unit price calculations are difficult (i.e., price-item [item-price] makes price [items] salient, negatively [positively] affecting evaluations). These effects do not persist with smaller packages or easier unit price calculations. The findings contribute to several literatures (e.g., numerosity, computational difficulty) but primarily to the order effects literature and have implications for measurement and practice (e.g., pricing).


DOI: 10.1086/661893
Electronically published August 18, 2011

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: How Word of Mouth Influences the Storyteller

Sarah G. Moore

Consumers frequently tell stories about consumption experiences through word of mouth (WOM). These WOM stories may be told traditionally, through spoken, face-to-face conversation, or nontraditionally, through written online reviews or other electronic channels. Past research has focused on how traditional and nontraditional WOM influences listeners and firms. This research instead addresses how specific linguistic content in nontraditional WOM influences the storyteller. The current article focuses on explaining language content, through which storytellers reason about why experiences happened or why experiences were liked or disliked. Four studies examine how and why explaining language influences storytellers' evaluations of and intentions to repeat, recommend, and retell stories about their experiences. Compared to nonexplaining language, explaining language influences storytellers by increasing their understanding of consumption experiences. Understanding dampens storytellers' evaluations of and intentions toward positive and negative hedonic experiences but polarizes storytellers' evaluations of and intentions toward positive and negative utilitarian experiences.


DOI: 10.1086/661891
Electronically published August 15, 2011

Selected Media Mentions

The Complex Psychology of a Yelp Review
Explaining why a cupcake is delicious can make us love it less
Why does explaining why a cupcake is delicious make us love it less?

Effect of Regulatory Focus on Selective Information Processing

Yeosun Yoon
Gülen Sarial-Abi
Zeynep Gürhan-Canli

Individuals tend to selectively rely on information consistent with their attitudes or decisions. In this research, the authors examine the possibility that regulatory focus influences selective information processing. The authors find that individuals selectively rely on information consistent with their regulatory orientation under high (vs. low) information load. Specifically, under high information load, relative reliance on positive (vs. negative) information is greater for promotion-focused (vs. prevention-focused) individuals. Consequently, when information load is high, promotion-focused (vs. prevention-focused) individuals have higher brand evaluations. Under low information load, individuals also rely on information inconsistent with their regulatory orientation. Specifically, under low information load, relative reliance on positive (vs. negative) information is greater for prevention-focused (vs. promotion-focused) individuals. As a result, when information load is low, prevention-focused (vs. promotion-focused) individuals have higher brand evaluations.


DOI: 10.1086/661935
Electronically published August 17, 2011

A Motivational Account of the Question-Behavior Effect

Anneleen Van Kerckhove
Maggie Geuens
Iris Vermeir

To explain the question-behavior effect, that is, the effect of answering an intention question on subsequent behavior, this article takes on a motivational perspective and proposes that answering an intention question automatically activates an intention. The activation of this motivational state influences subsequent brand choices due to changes in brand accessibilities. Three studies provide support for the assumption that responding to an intention question affects brand choices through a motivational mechanism, such that (1) answering an intention increases the accessibility of motivation-related information and decreases the accessibility of motivation-competing information which increases the choice for the intention-related brand; (2) intention completion temporarily reverses the foregoing accessibility patterns, instigating a reversal of the brand choices for an immediate, second brand choice; and (3) the changes in brand accessibilities and thus the behavioral effect persist as the delay between the intention question and brand choice occasion increases until intention completion.


Years, Months, and Days versus 1, 12, and 365: The Influence of Units versus Numbers

Ashwani Monga
Rajesh Bagchi

Quantitative changes may be conveyed to consumers using small units (e.g., change in delivery time from 7 to 21 days) or large units (1-3 weeks). Numerosity research suggests that changes are magnified by small (vs. large) units because a change from 7 to 21 (vs. 1-3) seems larger. The authors introduce a reverse effect that they term unitosity: changes are magnified by large (vs. small) units because a change of weeks (vs. days) seems larger. The authors show that numerosity reverses to unitosity when relative salience shifts from numbers to units (study 1). Then, arguing that numbers (units) represent a low-level (high-level) construal of quantities, the authors show this reversal when mind-set shifts from concrete to abstract (studies 2-4). These results emerge for several quantities-height of buildings, time of maturity of financial instruments, weight of nutrients, and length of tables-and have significant implications for theory and practice.


DOI: 10.1086/662039
Electronically published September 1, 2011 

The Journal of Consumer Research is sponsored by: