When Categorization Is Ambiguous: Factors That Facilitate and Inhibit the Use of a Multiple (Versus Single) Category Inference Strategy

Jennifer Gregan-Paxton, University of Delaware
Steve Hoeffler, University of North Carolina
Min Zhao, University of North Carolina
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Prior research has established that categorization plays a central role in new product learning (Sujan, 1985). Very little is known, however, about the operation of this commonly studied category-based learning process under conditions of categorization ambiguity. Categorization ambiguity exists when information about a new product makes it difficult or impossible to place the novel offering in a single, existing category. Many of the new technological innovations hitting the market today fit this profile, as they often combine the features and functionality of existing products to create a single hybrid product. For example, there are personal digital assistants (PDAs) with cell phone functions and cell phones with PDA functions. The categorization of these products is highly ambiguous because, in both cases, the hybrid could logically be considered either a PDA or a cell phone.
[ to cite ]:
Jennifer Gregan-Paxton, Steve Hoeffler, and Min Zhao (2004) ,"When Categorization Is Ambiguous: Factors That Facilitate and Inhibit the Use of a Multiple (Versus Single) Category Inference Strategy", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, eds. Barbara E. Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 444-445.