Tracking the Activation of Goals During the Consumer Choice Process

Kurt A. Carlson, Duke University
ABSTRACT - This paper introduces, validates, and demonstrates a method for tracking the activation of goals during the consumer choice process. The goal activation assessment method conjoins goal learning and memory prompts to aid retrospective goal recall. Memory prompts include the original stimuli, responses to intermediate judgments made during the choice process, and playback of an audio recorded or videotaped verbal protocol.
[ to cite ]:
Kurt A. Carlson (2002) ,"Tracking the Activation of Goals During the Consumer Choice Process", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 482.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, 2002     Page 482

TRACKING THE ACTIVATION OF GOALS DURING THE CONSUMER CHOICE PROCESS

Kurt A. Carlson, Duke University

ABSTRACT -

This paper introduces, validates, and demonstrates a method for tracking the activation of goals during the consumer choice process. The goal activation assessment method conjoins goal learning and memory prompts to aid retrospective goal recall. Memory prompts include the original stimuli, responses to intermediate judgments made during the choice process, and playback of an audio recorded or videotaped verbal protocol.

The method was used in two consumer choice studies to track goal-based cognitions during the choice process. In Study 1 the method was applied to two consumer choice phenomena: asymmetric dominance (Huber, Payne, and Puto 1982) and expected disparity (Carlson 2000). Goal activation data revealed that only those goals that were hypothesized to drive each phenomenon were differentially active across conditions. For asymmetric dominance, the expected difference in goals activation was observed only for those participants who were high in introspectiveness. This suggests that those good at introspecting have better access to their goals. Participants assigned to an observer condition inferred actors’ goal activation levels using the same prompts available to the actors. Activation levels provided by observers did not differ across conditions, presumably because observers lacked memory of goal activation. This suggests that actors recalled their goal activation levels from memory. Study 2 used the method to track participants’ goals during a wine choice from a display of 12 bottles. Results revealed logical goal activation patterns over time, expertise, display structure, and regulatory focus. Temporal activation results suggest that early judgments of information accommodated learning goals, while later judgments accommodated choice goals.

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