Special Session Summary Evaluative Formation Processes: Antecedents, Influences, and Consequences


Joseph R. Priester (1999) ,"Special Session Summary Evaluative Formation Processes: Antecedents, Influences, and Consequences", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Bernard Dubois, Tina M. Lowrey, and L. J. Shrum, Marc Vanhuele, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 119-120.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1999      Pages 119-120



Joseph R. Priester, University of Michigan, U.S.A.


This special session examines the evaluative formation process from three distinct, yet complimentary perspectives. The key question guiding the session is how variations in context can influence the formation of evaluations and how these differences in formation can have theoretically and strategically meaningful differences in consequences. The first paper, Culture and Compromise: The Influence of Collectivism and Introspection on Consumer Choice, examines this question from a cross-cultural perspective. In short, it examines how and when differences in cultural value systems influence evaluative processes related to choice. The second paper, The Effect of Expecting to Evaluate on Quality Evaluations, examines this question by investigating the influence of the mere knowledge that one will be asked to evaluate on the formation of evaluations. The third paper, Influencing Consideration and Choice: The Role of Evaluative Formation Processes, examines this question by examining how the thoughtfulness underlying the formation of evaluations can have ramifications on consideration and choice. Each of these papers provides an important insight into contextual influences on the evaluative formation process. Together, these papers begin to provide evidence for a theoetically meaningful understanding of when and how contextual factors influence evaluative processes, and consumer behavior.



Donnel A. Briley, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong

Michael Morris, Stanford University, U.S.A.

Itamar Simonson, Stanford University, U.S.A.

Past research suggests that when consumers need to give reasons for choices they make, their emphasis shifts from searching for the best option to searching for the option supported by the best reasons. We propose that the search for good reasons, in turn, magnifies cross-cultural differences in product preferences, because cross-cultural differences in evaluations of reasons are often greater than differences in product preferences. We examine this proposition in the context of consumer preferences for compromise options, based on evidence that East-Asian Confucianist heritage and norms are more likely to favor pro-compromise reasons than Western Judeo-Christian heritage and norms. In Study 1, we find that Hong Kong participants compromise more than American participants when required to provide a reason for a consumer choice but not otherwise. By content analyzing participants’ reasons, we confirmed that cultural differences in the frequency of generating particular types of reasons mediated the difference in choices. Studies 2 and 3 replicate the interactive effect of culture and the need to provide reasons in a comparison of North American versus Japanese participants and in a comparison of Euro-American and Asian-American participants, respectively. Study 4 and 5 found that Chinese participants, compared with Americans, evaluate proverbs and the reasons of others more positively when these favor compromise. We discuss the value of conceptualizing cultural influences in terms of dynamic decision strategies rather than as static individual differences.



Chezy Ofir, Hebrew University, Israel

Itamar Simonson, Stanford University, U.S.A.

Customers’ evaluations of quality and satisfaction are critical inputs in the development of marketing strategies. Given the increasingly common practice of asking for such evaluations, buyers of products (e.g., cars) and services (e.g., hotels, educational programs/courses) often know in advance that they will be subsequently asked to provide their evaluations. In a series of field studies, we demonstrate that expecting to evaluate leads to more negative quality and satisfaction evaluations. The negative bias of expected evaluations is observed both when actual quality is low and when it is high, and it persists even when buyers are told explicitly to consider both the positive and negative aspects. We examine three possible explanations for this systematic bias, referred to as negativity enhancement, role expectation, and vigilant processing . The findings are most consistent with the negativity enhancement account, indicating that, unless buyers begin the evaluation task with low expectations, they tend to focus during consumption primarily on negative aspects of product/service quality. The paper concludes with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of this research.



Joseph R. Priester, University of Michigan, U.S.A.

Dhananjay Nayakankuppam, University of Michigan, U.S.A.

That consumers consider and choose prior to purchase is accepted without question (Shocker, Ben-Akiva, Boccara, Nedungadi, 1991). And that attitudes influence this process is not onlyintuitively appealing, but has received empirical support as well (e.g., Nedungadi, 1990; Posavac, Sanbonmatsu, & Fazio, 1997). In short, those brands which one prefers are more likely to be considered and chosen for purchase. In this paper, we investigate the question of whether the processes by which attitudes are formed moderate the influence of attitudes on consideration and choice. We hypothesized that evaluative formation processes that resulted in strong attitudes (i.e., relatively thoughtful processes) would be more likely to influence consideration and choice than evaluative formation processes that resulted in weak attitudes (relatively nonthoughtful process, see Priester & Fleming, 1997). Importantly, we hypothesized that this differential influence of attitude strength on consideration and choice should emerge even when the attitudes are equivalent in extremity, familiarity, exposure, and memorability (i.e., factors that have been found to influence consideration and choice). Such a finding would represent a theoretically informative boundary condition that could provide insight into how, why, and when attitudes guide choice processes. Equally important, such a finding would provide strategic insight into how to establish brand attitudes that are more likely to result in consumer purchase.

In order to test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment in which participants were exposed to an advertisement for an unfamiliar product. The advertisement was designed such that it contained both strong arguments in support of the brand, and information that could be used as the basis for relatively nonthoughtful cues and heuristics to arrive at an attitude. Prior to exposure to the advertisement, participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions designed to manipulate the psychological processes by which the evaluations toward the brand were formed. In the thoughtful attitude formation condition, participants were asked to pay particular attention to the thoughts that came to mind as they looked at and read the advertisement. These instructions were intended to produce thoughtfully elaborated attitudes. In the nonthoughtful attitude formation condition, participants were asked to pay attention to the number of words with one or more syllable that appear in the advertisement. These instructions were intended to produce nonthoughtful, heuristically-based attitudes. After an interval of approximately 30 minutes, participants were asked to choose a product from which the advertised brand was a possible alternative, and to report which alternatives were considered. The results revealed that, as expected, the thoughtfully- and nonthoughtfully- formed attitudes did not differ across condition in terms of extremity, memorability, or ease of memorability. The attitudes did differ, however, in terms of their influence on consideration and choice. Specifically, thoughtfully formed attitudes were more likely to be considered (35% probability of consideration) than nonthoughtfully formed attitudes (5% probability of consideration) and thoughtfully formed attitudes were more likely to be chosen (25% probability) than nonthoughtfully formed attitudes (0% probablity).

This study demonstrates the importance of focusing not only upon brand attitude, but also upon the evaluative formation process by which a brand attitude has been established. Such processes can moderate whether a positive attitude will influence subsequent consumer consideration and choice.



Joseph R. Priester, University of Michigan, U.S.A.


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 1999

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