From Evaluating People to Evaluating Products: the Effect of Ascription Versus Achievement Mind-Set in Consumer Decisions

Individuals typically acquire social statuses by either inherited characteristics (e.g., ethnic, family background) or performances of tasks (e.g., educational attainment, job performance). The former status is known as ascribed status (who one is) and the latter is called achieved status (what one does) in sociology (Linton, 1936; Foladare, 1969; Pfeffer & Fabian, Forthcoming) The present study applies the ascription/achievement concepts to consumer research. Based on the product personality conceptualization developed by Jordan (1997), we draw an analogy that products, similar to individuals, also have "ascribed status" given by product’s origin (e.g., country-of-origin or COO, brand image) and “achieved status” derived from product’s performance of function (e.g., functional attributes). Founded on theories of mind-set, we propose that drawing consumers’ attention to people’s ascribed (vs. achieved) status in a prior situation can induce an ascription (vs. achievement) mind-set. The mind-set, in turn, increases consumers’ preference for products with favorable ascribed (vs. achieved) status in a subsequent unrelated purchase situation. The present study applies the ascription/achievement concepts to consumer research. Based on the product personality conceptualization developed by Jordan (1997), we draw an analogy that products, similar to individuals, also have "ascribed status" given by product’s origin (e.g., country-of-origin or COO, brand image) and “achieved status” derived from product’s performance of function (e.g., functional attributes). Founded on theories of mind-set, we propose that drawing consumers’ attention to people’s ascribed (vs. achieved) status in a prior situation can induce an ascription (vs. achievement) mind-set. The mind-set, in turn, increases consumers’ preference for products with favorable ascribed (vs. achieved) status in a subsequent unrelated purchase situation. Two experiments were designed to test hypotheses. Study 1 (already conducted) investigated how consumers' situationally induced ascription/achievement mind-set impacts preference of products with favorable ascribed/achieved status. Study 2 (in progress) examines how psychological distance of purchase moderates the effect of ascription/achievement mind-set on consumers’ preference of products.



Citation:

Zhi Wang (2012) ,"From Evaluating People to Evaluating Products: the Effect of Ascription Versus Achievement Mind-Set in Consumer Decisions", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10, eds. , , and , Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 440-441.

Authors

Zhi Wang, Hong Kong Baptist University



Volume

AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10 | 2012



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