Wishful Thinking: How Uncertainty Can Improve Promotions

Kelly Goldsmith, Yale University
On Amir, University of California, San Diego
Uncertainty is not all bad. Recent research suggests there may be motivational advantages accruing from uncertain cues. Building on these results, we investigate the effects of promotions that offer uncertain rewards and find instances when such incentives generate greater propensity to act. For example, lotteries between smaller and larger rewards can be as attractive as larger rewards for certain. We find that this effect occurs because consumers tend to demonstrate intuitive wishful thinking and outline boundary conditions for this positive effect, such as elaboration and a-priori attitudes. We believe these results have clear practical implications for marketers.
[ to cite ]:
Kelly Goldsmith and On Amir (2008) ,"Wishful Thinking: How Uncertainty Can Improve Promotions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 185-188.