A remarkable cause-marketing (CM) strategy has emerged in the marketplace; businesses promise to donate an identical product for each product sold (i.e., a “one-for-one” promotion). Yet despite prosocial tendencies, consumers hesitate when uncertain about others’ preferences, which poses the question of whether one-for-one promotions are perceived to meet recipients’ preferences. Five experiments (one field experiment and four lab experiments) reveal that the efficacy of in-kind, one-for-one promotions varies as a function of product type. Specifically, one-for-one promotions enhance purchase intentions for utilitarian products but undermine purchase intentions for hedonic products. Moreover, this difference is due to certainty regarding recipients’ utilitarian preferences and uncertainty regarding recipients’ hedonic preferences. Importantly, hedonic products’ backfiring effects are attenuated when recipients’ preferences are perceived as homogeneous or the recipient is familiar to the donor. Collectively, these findings emphasize the importance of consumer inferences regarding recipients’ preferences in determining the efficacy of CM promotions that leverage in-kind benefits while elucidating the role of product type in the effectiveness of these promotions.
Although individuals are often influenced by experts, individuals themselves can be experts—and, in such instances, it is important to understand who influences their attitudes. That is, to whom do experts turn to for guidance when considering their own preferences? The present research proposes that, while novices are more influenced by majority endorsements, experts are more influenced by minority endorsements. This hypothesis is based on the premise that novices and experts perceive the reasons for their preferences to be similar to majority and minority groups, respectively (i.e., basis similarity). Specifically, experts perceive minority opinion to be based on innovation, whereas novices perceive majority opinion to be based on convention. Of importance, this effect is strongest in domains where the criteria for evaluation are subjective and non-normative opinion is difficult to invalidate. Four experiments support this framework and, in doing so, offer novel insight into the impact of expertise on the emergence of minority influence.
Seeking to help consumers make healthier decisions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated in 2010 the direct posting of calorie information on menus. Research, however, consistently demonstrates this mandate to not be as effective as intended despite required compliance in 2018. In response, the present research proposes a social marketing technique that leverages provincial norms (i.e., norms that are specific to consumption contexts) to nudge consumers toward healthier decisions. Across one field and two laboratory experiments, exposure to low-calorie provincial norms consistently reduced calorie totals (relative to both a descriptive and no-norm control condition). This reduced calorie total stemmed from a heightened motivation to align with the norm and did not undermine satisfaction, facilitate overindulgence on subsequent choices, or heighten guilt. Collectively, these findings offer an important means of increasing the efficacy of the FDA mandate while providing unique insight into how provincial norms nudge consumers toward healthier decision making.
Public influence reflects attitude change motivated by the need to attain social acceptance and occurs in the absence of corresponding change in private attitudes. It has been a topic of intrigue for decades to consumer psychologists due, in part, to the role of public influence in key phenomenon such as conformity, compliance, diffusion of responsibility, social roles, and persuasion. This chapter presents a detailed account of the dominant methodologies by which public influence has been studied. In particular, we explore the direct survey methods, situational manipulations, and dispositional variables that have been central to the study of public influence in consumer psychology. Additionally, we raise questions critical to the manner in which public influence is currently studied and speculate about new methodologies that address the reality of the evolving nature of public influence. Our hope is that this methodological review will not only serve as a reference for those interested in studying public influence but encourage future research to consider emerging methods to grow our understanding of public influence.
Individuals are repeatedly exposed to new information over time, yet adjustment is typically insufficient and people are generally unaffected by this type of exposure. To circumvent this resistance to novel information, the current research posits that the mere timing by which the same information is differentially-revealed can prompt re-evaluation by heightening individuals’ curiosity in the new information. Three experiments show that strategically-revealing new information promotes re-evaluation by increasing curiosity in the new information. Importantly, the effect of curiosity on the re-evaluation process occurs irrespective of the valence of the new information yet only when the revealed information is diagnostic. Collectively, these results provide a unique lens into the impact of curiosity in circumventing resistance to novel information and, consequently, a novel catalyst for future research on judgement updating, resistance to persuasion, and omission neglect.
The present research explores a contextual perspective on persuasion in multiple message situations. It is proposed that when people receive persuasive messages, the effects of those messages are influenced by other messages to which people recently have been exposed. In two experiments, participants received a target persuasive message from a moderately credible source. Immediately before this message, participants received another message, on a different topic, from a source with high or low credibility. In Experiment 1, participants’ attitudes toward the target issue were more favorable after they had first been exposed to a different message from a low rather than high credibility source (contrast). In Experiment 2, this effect only emerged when a priming manipulation gave participants a dissimilarity mindset. When participants were primed with a similarity mindset, their attitudes toward the target issue were more favorable following a different message from a high rather than low credibility source (assimilation).
This research explores the possibility that when people receive sequential persuasive messages about different issues, the trustworthiness of the source of an early (prior) message can influence people’s motivation to process a subsequent (target) message. Participants were presented with a target persuasive message from a source of ambiguous trustworthiness. Preceding this message, participants received a message about a different issue from a source unambiguously high or low in trustworthiness. When primed to focus on similarities, participants showed greater processing of the target message when the prior source was low rather than high in trustworthiness (assimilation). When primed to focus on dissimilarities, participants showed the opposite effect (contrast). As expected, however, these effects were particularly likely to manifest for low need for cognition individuals, who are not otherwise inclined to engage in extensive processing. High need for cognition individuals engaged in extensive processing regardless of the prime and prior source manipulations.
Self-generated thought has an important impact on attitude change, with repeated demonstrations of increased opportunity for thought about an attitude object increasing attitude extremity. The traditional explanation for this mere thought effect is that more time to think allows people to produce more attitudeconsistent thoughts, which polarize their attitudes. Expanding on this structural perspective, the current research explores a metacognitive account for the effect of time on attitude polarization. Three experiments demonstrate that thought confidence plays an independent mediating role in the mere thought effect (Experiment 1), that it accounts for reversals in the mere thought effect when people have too much time to think (Experiment 2), and that this reversal is tied to the difficulty people have retrieving thoughts when too much time is provided (Experiment 3). Thus, taking metacognitive features of thought into account sheds new light on self-persuasion in the mere thought paradigm.
People often reflect on the opinions of others and express greater attitude certainty when they perceive their attitudes to be shared by others (high attitude consensus). The present research tests the possibility that either high or low attitude consensus can increase attitude certainty depending on people’s salient social identification needs. In particular, high attitude consensus with a target group is found to be more validating when people seek to belong to the group, as this identification motive promotes a search for similarities between themselves and the group. In contrast, low attitude consensus with a target group is found to be more validating when people seek to be unique from a group, as this identification motive promotes a search for dissimilarities between themselves and the group. Two experiments support these hypotheses, offering insight into the intra-personal motives that alter the diagnostic value of social consensus information.
The mere thought effect is defined in part by the tendency of self-reflective thought to heighten the generation of and reflection on attitude-consistent thoughts. By focusing on individuals’ fears of invalidity, we explored the possibility that the mere opportunity for thought sometimes motivates reflection on attitude-inconsistent thoughts. Across three experiments, dispositional and situational fear of invalidity was shown to heighten reflection on attitude-inconsistent thoughts. This heightened reflection, in turn, interacted with individuals’ thought confidence to determine whether attitude-inconsistent thoughts were assimilated or refuted and consequently whether individuals’ attitudes and behavioral intentions depolarized or polarized following a sufficient opportunity for thought, respectively. These findings emphasize the impact of motivational influences on thought reflection and generation, the importance of thought confidence in the assimilation and refutation of self-generated thought, and the dynamic means by which the mere thought bias can impact self-persuasion.