Marketplace Motives and Consumer Meta-Skepticism

Session Chair: Barbara Bickart, Rutgers University - Camden
Discussion Leader: Connie Pechmann, University of California-Irvine

Session Title:  Marketplace Motives and Consumer Meta-Skepticism


When mental systems disbelieve: on consumers’ distrust

Dan Ariely, MIT and Ayelet Gneezy, University of Chicago


In social interaction it was shown that people first believe others, and disbelief is triggered only as a result of a correcting procedure. We hypothesize that, in contrast with the standard finding from social interaction, consumers are primarily disbelieving and distrusting of information provided by marketers. One field study and two lab studies support this hypothesis.  The results of Study 1 show that when endorsed by a firm, unambiguous statements are judged as false more frequently compared to when they are endorsed by an anonymous source. Studies 2 and 3 present behavioral and attitudinal consequences of this distrust.



Benefit Of Doubt Or Betrayal? The Effect Of Priors And Reasons On Response To Price Increases


Priya Raghubir, University of California at Berkeley

Margaret C. Campbell, University of Colorado at Boulder




An important issue for many companies is to understand how existing customers will respond to price changes. We suggest that consumers can view fee increases as ambiguous events that are disambiguated as a function of consumers’ inferences of marketplace motives. Motives are influenced by prior experiences with the company and the information that the company provides for why a fee is increased. Raghubir and Corfman (1999) suggest that consumers may feel a sense of betrayal when a service provider for whom the customer has a positive prior violates that trust with a price increase. Campbell (1999) suggests that positive priors can lead to a benefit of doubt being given to the service provider. We propose that the consumer’s interpretation of the firm’s reasons for the price increase influences which of these two responses occurs by influencing consumers’ emotional response to the increase.

            A series of experiments examines this issue within the context of fee increases by financial institutions. Study 1 shows that priors exercise a strong influence on satisfaction, outweighing the effect of the size of the price increase. Study 2 shows that the reason for the fee increase moderates the emotions elicited – betrayal is greater when the fee increase is an infraction on the basis of the relationship. Study 3 shows that the fact, rather than the amount of the fee leads to worsened evaluations. Study 4 shows that attitudes towards a competitor’s bank can affect the manner in which a consumer attributes reasons for a fee for their own bank.


Does it Pay to Beat Around the Bush? Salesperson Motives and the Effects of Obfuscation versus Honesty in Communications


Barbara Bickart and Maureen Morrin, Rutgers University-Camden

S. Ratneshwar, University of Missouri


Communication between a salesperson and a consumer plays an important role in how long-term relationships are developed and maintained.  In two studies, we show that consumers’ beliefs about a salesperson’s motives affect how consumers’ interpret communication with the agent.  Specifically, when the salesperson’s motive is to earn a commission (versus provide information), consumers believe the agent is more likely to obfuscate versus admit not knowing the answer to a question.  Further, when the agent is on commission, behavioral intentions and satisfaction are significantly higher when the agent admits to not knowing an answer relative to obfuscating.   We discuss these findings in the context of the Persuasion Knowledge Model (i.e., Friestad and Wright 1994, 1995).
[ to cite ]:
Session Chair: Barbara Bickart and Discussion Leader: Connie Pechmann (2006) ,"Marketplace Motives and Consumer Meta-Skepticism", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 593-598.