Special Session Summary Consumer Confidence and Knowledge Calibration

Christine Moorman, Duke University
[ to cite ]:
Christine Moorman (2001) ,"Special Session Summary Consumer Confidence and Knowledge Calibration", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 47.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 47



Christine Moorman, Duke University

The papers in this session illustrate three approaches to consumer confidence: (1) as an estimation of what a consumer thinks she knows (Moorman et al.); (2) as subjective probabilities associated with predictions (Brenner et al.) and (3) as an enduring trait reflecting a consumer’s perceived ability to generate positive marketplace experiences (Bearden et al.).

In "Random Support Theory: A Flexible Approach to Modeling the Calibration of Subjective Probabilities, " Brenner, Koehler, and Griffin presented a random support model of the calibration of subjective probabilities. In this model, subjective probabilities are based on the distributions of supportBor strengh of evidenceCfor true and false hypotheses. Using this approach, they examined the degree to which people take into account evidence about the particular case and evidence about the class of events from which the current case is a member when generating probability judgments. Interpreting support as "strength of evidence" about the case at hand leads to the prediction that case data will primarily drive probability judgments, while class data will be underweighted. This prediction was supported in several studies of consumer judgments of the likelihood of stock price increases. Random support theory can represent the underweighting of class data in terms of insensitivity of its parameters to changes in outcome base rate (e.g., whether it is overall a bull or bear market) and cue diagnosticity (whether the evidence predicting price increases is of high or low validity).

In "Consumer Self-Confidence: Refinements in Conceptualization and Measurement, " Bearden, Hardesty, and Rose develop and validate a scale to measure multiple dimensions of self-confidence. The result is a six-factor correlated model comprised of confidence in information acquisition, consideration set formation, personal outcomes and social outcomes decision-making, persuasion knowledge, and marketplace interfaces. A series of studies demonstrate the psychometric properties of the measures, their discriminant validity with respect to related constructs, and their construct validity. In one application, they predict that is reasonable for a consumer to avoid relying on price (P) as a cue to quality if he or she is confident and believes strongly that price is not related to quality (Q). Thus, consumer self-confidence is expected to moderate the relationship between the strength of consumers’ Q-schema and their choice of a higher priced product. Results support this idea by finding that confidence increases the likelihood of choosing the higher priced product when PQ-schema is strong and decreases the likelihood of choosing the higher-priced product when the PQ-schema is weak.

Finally, in "Knowledge Calibration and Knowledge-related Goals," Moorman, Brinberg, Diehl, and Kidwell focus on the interplay of objective (accurate, stored expertise) and subjective (confidence in that expertise) knowledge. We propose that the impact of internal calibration (the match between objective knowledge [OK] and subjective knowledge [SK]) depends upon the level of external calibration (the match between knowledge and the goals used in choice). We measure OK (nutrition), manipulate SK (nutrition) by giving false feedback to subjects about their performance on the OK test, and manipulate goals (with a moderate goalBchoose a healthy diet and no goalBchoose whatever you like). Subjects made two days of food choices in a computerized supermarket. We find, as we predict, that low SK-low OK consumers have significantly less fat in their choices in the no goal situation indicating that the moderate goal overwhelmed them. Likewise, the high SK-high OK consumers did worse in the presence of a moderate goal presumably because they automatically evoke more challenging goals. Finally, the high SK-low OK consumers perform better in the goal situation than in the no goal situation describing one condition under which SK facilitates better decision making.

Wes Hutchinson lead a discussion of the issues involved in studying consumer confidence.