Does Thinking Make It So? the Effect of Counterfactual Thinking on Product Evaluations

Kai-Yu Wang, Brock University, Canada
Minli Liang, State Universirty of New York at Brockport, USA
Laura Peracchio, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
Counterfactual thinking (CFT) is the process of reflecting on past events and simulating alternative possible outcomes. CFT may operate in either of two directions: upward vs. downward counterfactuals. Upward counterfactuals are alternatives that are better than actuality (e.g., If only I had purchased product B, I would not have to waste so much time and effort getting product A repaired). Downward counterfactuals are alternatives that are worse than actuality (e.g., At least product A, the product I purchased, is cheaper and product B may not work any better than A). In three studies, we demonstrate that counterfactual thinking impacts consumers’ product evaluations and extensiveness of information processing moderates these effects. Our results indicate that post-purchase marketing efforts, such as follow-up customer surveys, can engage consumers in counterfactual thinking and influence their product evaluations.
[ to cite ]:
Kai-Yu Wang, Minli Liang, and Laura Peracchio (2010) ,"Does Thinking Make It So? the Effect of Counterfactual Thinking on Product Evaluations ", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 589-590 .