Illiteracy and Innumeracy Among Consumers: the Dark Side of Information Processing

ABSTRACT - The skills associated with illiteracy and innumeracy carry important implications for consumers. However, past consumer research is characterized by a lack of sustained study of illiterate consumers. In this study, a variety of methods, such as in-depth interviews and observations in a shopping environment, are used to understand consumer illiteracy and innumeracy. The sample consisted of students at an adult education center. Observations from classroom activities and shopping tasks at stores suggest a model of decision making with little effort spent on evaluation of alternatives. From an information processing perspective, most of the effort is spent on perceptual processes such as in locating a product and reading price information. Themes from in-depth interviews suggest a high degree of concrete thinking exemplified by dependence on audio-visual information, short-term orientation, use of numbers as concrete information, intuitive processing, and an emphasis on contextual learning. Related themes include dependence on others as an extreme form of a decision heuristic and maintenance of self-esteem in service encounters. Behavioral outcomes observed include perceptual decision making, and high loyalty to retail outlets. This research raises fundamental theoretical issues relating to the adequacy of existing models of consumer behavior in capturing decision-making of the illiterate population, as well as important practical implications for marketers.



Citation:

Madhubalan Viswanathan and James Harris (2001) ,"Illiteracy and Innumeracy Among Consumers: the Dark Side of Information Processing", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Paula M. Tidwell and Thomas E. Muller, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 274.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001      Page 274

ILLITERACY AND INNUMERACY AMONG CONSUMERS: THE DARK SIDE OF INFORMATION PROCESSING

Madhubalan Viswanathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.

James Harris, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.

ABSTRACT -

The skills associated with illiteracy and innumeracy carry important implications for consumers. However, past consumer research is characterized by a lack of sustained study of illiterate consumers. In this study, a variety of methods, such as in-depth interviews and observations in a shopping environment, are used to understand consumer illiteracy and innumeracy. The sample consisted of students at an adult education center. Observations from classroom activities and shopping tasks at stores suggest a model of decision making with little effort spent on evaluation of alternatives. From an information processing perspective, most of the effort is spent on perceptual processes such as in locating a product and reading price information. Themes from in-depth interviews suggest a high degree of concrete thinking exemplified by dependence on audio-visual information, short-term orientation, use of numbers as concrete information, intuitive processing, and an emphasis on contextual learning. Related themes include dependence on others as an extreme form of a decision heuristic and maintenance of self-esteem in service encounters. Behavioral outcomes observed include perceptual decision making, and high loyalty to retail outlets. This research raises fundamental theoretical issues relating to the adequacy of existing models of consumer behavior in capturing decision-making of the illiterate population, as well as important practical implications for marketers.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Madhubalan Viswanathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.
James Harris, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 2001



Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More

Featured

Q10. Social Media Agency: Exploring the Role of Social Media Structures in Shaping Consumers’ Identity Projects

Gabrielle Patry-Beaudoin, Queens University, Canada
Jay Handelman, Queens University, Canada

Read More

Featured

When Sharing Isn’t Caring: The Influence of Seeking the Best on Sharing Favorable Word of Mouth about Unsatisfactory Purchases

Nicholas J. Olson, Texas A&M University, USA
Rohini Ahluwalia, University of Minnesota, USA

Read More

Featured

Understanding Trust Formation in Peer-to-peer Social Commerce

Lena Cavusoglu, Portland State University
Deniz Atik, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.