Special Session Summary the Relationship Between Rational and Experiential Processing: Conflict, Complicity, Or Independence?

Laurette Dube, McGill University
Ashesh Mukherjee, McGill University
[ to cite ]:
Laurette Dube and Ashesh Mukherjee (2003) ,"Special Session Summary the Relationship Between Rational and Experiential Processing: Conflict, Complicity, Or Independence?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 44.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Page 44

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RATIONAL AND EXPERIENTIAL PROCESSING: CONFLICT, COMPLICITY, OR INDEPENDENCE?

Laurette Dube, McGill University

Ashesh Mukherjee, McGill University

Consumer judgment and decision making research has traditionally focused on rational explanations for behavior, in which individuals are assumed to have a conceptual understanding of the object in question, and consciously use information in the environment to make explicit judgments about the object. However, there has been a progressive recognition in recent research in both psychology and consumer behavior, that deliberate and logical consideration of information about a situation is only one of two possible systems guiding decisions and behaviors. The second system, that we label experiential following Epstein (1994), decisions and behaviors rely instead on a fast, more intuitive consideration of the information relevant to a situation, and of how one feels about it. From an experiential perspective, it is not an individual’s rational consideration of explicit information that is relevant to decision making and behavior, but rather one’s intuitions and emotions associated with prior experience of the situation. The role of experiential processing in shaping consumer decisions and actions has been empirically demonstrated in a good number of studies that have focused on persuasion (e.g., Conway and Dube, in press), evaluation and decision (e.g., Schwarz 1998; Adaval, 2001) and consumption (e.g., Shiv and Fedorikin,1999). Research also shows that the relative influence of one processing mode over the other is determined by the type of products (Adaval, 2001) and situations (Shiv and Fedorikin, 1999), as well as by individual characteristics (Conway and Dube, in press). One of the relatively unexplored issues in research on the rational and experiential systems pertains to the relationship between these two modes of information processing and decision-making. There is evidence in both general and consumer contexts that the two modes of processing sometimes conflict (Denes-Raj and Epstein 1994; Shiv and Fedorikin, 1999), and are sometimes are simply independent (Conway and Dube, in press). Even if empirical evidence for their synergistic functioning has not emerged yet (presentation by Raghunathan and Trope will offer such evidence), early theorizing by Epstein (1985) suggests that the rational and experiential systems often act in complicity. Because the design of effective communications aimed at influencing decision making and behavior is likely to be very different depending on the operation of these two processing modes, it is critical to develop an in-depth understanding of how rational and experiential processing systems relate to each other.

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