Special Session Summary the Act of Learning and the Acquisition of Knowledge

Anne L. Roggeveen, Columbia University
[ to cite ]:
Anne L. Roggeveen (2001) ,"Special Session Summary the Act of Learning and the Acquisition of Knowledge", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 353.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 353



Anne L. Roggeveen, Columbia University

There has been a substantial amount of work on the effects of prior learning on various dependent variables such as product evaluations and choice (see, e.g., Bettman and Sujan 1987, Brucks 1985). However, as noted by Hutchinson and Alba (1991), in general, there has been little empirical effort devoted to how knowledge develops (see Huffman and Houston 1993 for an exception). This session aimed to stimulate interest in the areas of learning and the development of knowledge by focusing on recent empirical research in this area. It brought together three papers that examined how people learn.

Markman and Moreau presented a paper titled "Systematicity in Analogical Inference: Implications for the Marketing of New Products." Their research considered learning via systematic relation-based knowledge transfer. They demonstrated that when participants were able to construct relation-based mappings between a known product and an unfamiliar target, they were more likely to generate inferences based on shared-system facts about the target. These inferences then affected the construction of preferences for the new product. Thus, the relation among attributes drove learning and preference formation about a new product.

Broniarczyk and West presented a paper titled "Integrating Multiple Opinions: The Role of Aspiration Level, Prior Beliefs, and Critic Diagnosticity." Their research addressed learning in the context of consistency with prior beliefs and strength of data. Specifically, their work focused on the two-stage process of how individuals learn which critic opinion is personally most diagnostic and how individuals then utilize critic opinions in their own judgments. They found that critic disagreement in the data increased the salience of the dissenting critics and hence facilitated learning of their diagnosticity and hindered learning of the other critics. Consumer learning did not appear to be affected by prior beliefs but critic utilization was. Specifically, consumers utilized critic opinions in their own judgments if it was consistent with their prior critic beliefs and if they learned true critic diagnosticity due to disagreement in the data.

Roggeveen and Johar presented a paper titled "Integration of Market Research about Customers." Their work examined the impact of negative information on how people update and learn new information. Specifically, their work examned quantitative information and teased apart two aspects to negativityBmeaning (e.g., higher launch cost than initial information) and change from a reference point (e.g., lower launch costs than initial information). Results found support for a "lower numbers" bias such that the classic negativity bias manifested for new information regardless of whether the new information implied good news (e.g., lower launch costs) or bad news (e.g., lower sales forecasts) for the company. The authors proposed a two-stage model of perceptual then conceptual encoding to explain these findings.

Steve Hoch acted as the discussion leader highlighting the interesting points from each paper and tying the three streams of work into the general topic of how people learn and update beliefs. The session concluded with an active discussion between session participants and members of the audience.