Journal of Consumer Research
September 11, 2012


Featured Media Mentions

The Huffington Post 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune 

Journal of Consumer Research
Highlights from Two Years Ago

Small Sounds, Big Deals: Phonetic Symbolism Effects in Pricing
Keith S. Coulter

Robin A. Coulter  

Studies suggest that certain vowel and consonant sounds (or phonemes) can be associated with perceptions of large and small size. Mental rehearsal of prices containing numbers with small phonemes results in overestimation of price discounts, whereas mental rehearsal of prices containing numbers with large phonemes results in underestimation. Mental rehearsal of the same sale prices characterized by small phonemes in one language and large phonemes in another language can yield differential effects. For example, when sale prices are rehearsed in English, an $11.00 - $7.88 (28.4%) discount is perceived as greater than a $10.00 - $7.01 (29.9%) discount; however, when these same prices are rehearsed in Chinese, the latter discount is perceived as greater. Non-price-related phonemes do not yield these same discount distortions. Collectively, findings indicate that the mere sounds of numbers can nonconsciously affect and distort numerical magnitude perceptions.

Volume 37, Number 2, August 2010

DOI: 10.1086/651241

Does Choice Mean Freedom and Well-Being?
Hazel Rose Markus

Barry Schwartz

Americans live in a political, social, and historical context that values personal freedom and choice above all else, an emphasis that has been amplified by contemporary psychology. However, this article reviews research that shows that in non-Western cultures and among working-class Westerners, freedom and choice do not have the meaning or importance they do for the university-educated people who have been the subjects of almost all research on this topic. One cannot assume that choice, as understood by educated, affluent Westerners, is a universal aspiration. The meaning and significance of choice are cultural constructions. Moreover, even when choice can foster freedom, empowerment, and independence, it is not an unalloyed good. Too much choice can produce a paralyzing uncertainty, depression, and selfishness. In the United States, the path to well-being may require that one strike a balance between the positive and negative consequences of proliferating choice in every domain of life.

Volume 37, Number 2, August 2010

DOI: 10.1086/651242


Selected Media Mentions  


Goal Management in Sequential Choices: Consumer Choices for Others Are More Indulgent than Personal Choices
Juliano Laran 

What are the differences in exerting self-control in sequential choices when consumers choose for others (family or friends) rather than for themselves? Sequential choices represent an opportunity to manage the pursuit of one's multiple personal goals. Consumers typically manage these personal goals by combining indulgent and virtuous choices. When choosing for others, however, this is not the case. Consumers then focus on a pleasure-seeking goal, which leads to indulgent choices for others. Six experiments demonstrate this phenomenon and uncover conditions that encourage more virtuous choices for others.

Volume 37, Number 2, August 2010

DOI: 10.1086/652193  


Puffery in Advertisements: The Effects of Media Context, Communication Norms, and Consumer Knowledge
Alison Jing Xu

Robert S. Wyer Jr.

Ads often contain puffery -- product descriptions that purport to be important but actually provide little if any meaningful information. Consumers' reactions to these descriptions depend on whether they perceive themselves to be more or less knowledgeable about the product than others whom the ad is specifically intended to influence. When an ad appears in a professional magazine that is read primarily by experts in the product domain, puffery generally increases the ad's effectiveness. This is also true when the ad appears in a popular magazine but readers perceive themselves to know less about the product than consumers at large. If readers believe they know as much as or more than general consumers, however, puffery decreases the ad's effectiveness. In addition, the media context in which an ad is encountered has a direct effect on judgments by consumers who perceive themselves to have little knowledge about the type of product being advertised.

Volume 37, Number 2, August 2010

DOI: 10.1086/651204

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