Special Session Summary the Effects of Option Presentation and Preference Measurement on Elicited Preferences



Citation:

Dipankar Chakravarti (2002) ,"Special Session Summary the Effects of Option Presentation and Preference Measurement on Elicited Preferences", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 113-115.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Pages 113-115

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

THE EFFECTS OF OPTION PRESENTATION AND PREFERENCE MEASUREMENT ON ELICITED PREFERENCES

Dipankar Chakravarti, University of Colorado, Boulder, U.S.A.

A body of research suggests that consumer preferences are often constructed when judgments and decisions need to be made, rather than retrieved from a master list of preferences stored in memory (Bettman, Luce, and Payne 1998). As a consequence, preferences are often labile and context sensitive, such that the circumstances surrounding the judgment/decision task strongly influence the elicited preferences. Since how options are presented and how preference is measured are components of judgment/decision elicitation contexts, these are expected to influence the preferences that consumers construct. The notion is consistent with concepts of self-generated validity (e.g., Feldman and Lynch 1988) and with processes underlying "mere-measurement" effects (Morwitz and Fitzsimmons 2000).

Broadly speaking, the three papers in this session examine how elicited preferences are influenced by how options are presented and preferences are measured. The first paper (by Chakravarti and Srivastava) examines how presenting partitioned or consolidated prices for products with varying features influences preferences and choice. In the second paper, Rottenstreich, Sood and Brenner argue that measurement related manipulations that make a brand more accessible in memory, enhance preference for the brand. The third paper (by Nowlis, Kahn and Dhar) shows that the exclusion of a middle/indifference response option can systematically influence consumer preferences

Chakravarti and Srivastava report three experiments examining the evaluation and choice effects of partitioned versus consolidated pricing of multi-component products (bundles). Study 1 examines whether partitioning the prices of hedonic (e.g., styling) versus utilitarian (e.g., warranty) components affects how consumers process the multi-component products. Study 2 examines the robustness of the findings by varying the utilitarian component to be functionality enhancing versus providing insurance. Study 3 examines whether partitioned versus consolidated price presentation and the type of component partitioned (hedonic or utilitarian) influences consumer propensity to exceed a constrained budget. They attempt to identify the cognitive and/or motivational locus of these effects in light of past work that interprets these effects in terms of the mental accounting of gains and losses, the attentional effects of price partitioning, the effort/accuracy characteristics of the processing heuristics, or hedonic motivations that drive flexible coding and editing of the presented prices and benefits.

Consistent with work suggesting that availability is used to draw inferences, Rottenstreich, Sood, and Brenner propose that the ease with which options come to mind may be used as a cue to preference. They examine the effect of availability on preference in a series of four experiments in which some consumers express preference when no options are explicitly provided (i.e., generated favorites) and other consumers express preference given an explicitly provided list of options (i.e., selected favorites). The results indicate that options higher in availability are relatively more likely to be generated favorites, whereas options lower in availability are relatively more likely to be selected favorites.

Nowlis, Kahn, and Dhar argue that attitudes and preferences typically vary in their activation of positive or negative evaluations. Consequently, a neutral or "fence sitting" response might represent either indifference (low activation of both positive and negative evaluative processes) or ambivalence (high activation of both positive and negative evaluative processes). In a series of six experiments, they examine the conditions and processes whereby the excluding a neutral or "fence-sitting" option changes expressed attitudes or judged preferences. They argue that if consumers experience ambivalence, excluding a neutral response increases the use of effort engaging and conflict reducing heuristics since they are forced to confront the difficult tradeoffs.

References

Bettman, James R., Mary F. Luce and John W. Payne (1998), Constructive Consumer Choice Processes, Journal of Consumer Research, 25, 3, 187-217.

Feldman, Jack M. and John G. Lynch, Jr., (1988), "Self-generated Validity and Other Effects of measurement on Beliefs, Attitudes, Intentions and Behavior," Journal of Applied Psychology, 73, 3, 421-435.

Morwitz, Vicki, G. and Gavan Fitzsimmons (2000), "The Mere-Measurement Effect: Why Does Measuring Purchase Intentions Change Actual Purchase Behavior? Working Paper, New York University, NeW York, NY 10012.

 

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - S

"PARTITIONING PRICES OF HEDONIC AND UTILITARIAN COMPONENTS OF PRODUCTS: SALIENCE EFFECTS ON INFORMATION PROCESSING, EVALUATIONS AND CHOICE"

Dipankar Chakravarti, University of Colorado, Boulder

Joydeep Srivastava, University of California, Berkeley

Several recent studies have reported that partitioned versus consolidated pricing of multi-component products (bundles) may influence evaluations and choice (Mazumdar and Jun 1993; Yadav and Monroe 1993). Although some researchers have interpreted such effects in the light of Thaler’s (1985) mental accounting propositions on segregating gains and integrating losses, empirical tests of these propositions have produced conflicting results (e.g., Heath et al. 1995; M. Johnson et al. 1999).

Some researchers provide a cognitive analysis of theses effects, focusing explanations on the effort and accuracy characteristics of the processing heuristics engaged in such situations (e.g., Morwitz et al. 1998). Others have suggested that consumers may code presented prices and benefits quite flexibly and are often motivated to edit the presented frames to hedonic ends (Thaler and Johnson 1990) determined by individual differences or dictated by the task and situational characteristics.

Partitioned component prices allows consumers to engage in additive versus subtractive framing in choice decisions with the flexibility to "choose the components they want" or "reject those that they do not want" (Park et al. 2000). The subtractive mode results in the choice of more components (of lower average importance and a higher total price) than in the additive mode. Chakravarti et al. (2002) show that price partitioning influences evaluation and choice by drawing attention to (or from) specific bundle features. Partitioning the price of a consumption-related feature focuses attention on add-on consumption benefits and reduces scrutiny of performance data. However, partitioning the price of a performance-related feature enhances scrutiny of performance information. This differential salience of performance variations alters evaluation and choice even when the product has equivalent features and prices and the partitioned component is mandatory.

This paper reports three experiments extending these findings on partitioned prices. Study 1 examines whether partitioning the prices of hedonic (e.g., styling) versus utilitarian (e.g., warranty) components have differential effects on how consumers process a multi-component product. Two product categories are used as replicates. Study 2 examines the robustness of the findings by varying the utilitarian component to be functionality enhancing versus providing insurance or protection. Both studies involve partitioning the price of a mandatory component. Study 3 examines whether partitioned versus consolidated price presentation and the type of component partitioned (hedonic or utilitarian) influences consumer propensity to exceed a constrained budget in order to make a purchase. We attempt to identify the cognitive or motivational locus of these effects. In Studies 1 and 2 we track sensitivity to embedded manipulations of consumption situations as well as performance data to identify the locus of consumer attention and information processing. In Study 3, we examine consumer protocols rationalizing staying within or exceeding budget constraints to assess the motivational effects of price partitioning.

References

Chakravarti, Dipankar, Rajan Krish, Pallab Paul & Joydeep Srivastava (2002), "Partitioned Presentation of Multi-Component Bundle Prices: Evaluation, Choice and Underlying Processing Effects, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 12, 3, (in press).

Heath, Timothy B., Chatterjee, Subimal, & France, Karen R. (1993). Mental Accounting and Changes in Price: The Frame Dependence of Reference Dependence. Journal of Consumer Research, 22, 90-97.

Johnson, Michael D.,Herrmann, Andreas, & Bauer, Hans H. (1999). The Effects of Price Bundling on Consumer Evaluations of Product Offerings. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 16, 129-142.

Mazumdar, Tridib & Jun, Sung Y. (1993). Consumer Evaluations of Multiple versus Single Price Change. Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 441-450.

Morwitz, Vicki G., Greenleaf, Eric A. & Johnson, Eric J. (1998). Divide and Prosper: Consumers’ Reactions to Partitioned Prices. Journal of Marketing Research, 35, 453-463.

Park, C. Whan, Jun, Sung Y., & MacInnis, Deborah J. (2000). Choosing What I Want Versus Rejecting What I Do Not Want: An Application of Decision Framing to Product Option choice Decisions. Journal of Marketing Research, 37, 187-202.

Thaler, Richard H. (1985). Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice. Marketing Science, 4, 199-214.

Thaler, Richard H. and Johnson, Eric J. (1990). Gambling with The House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice. Management Science, 36, 643660.

Yadav, Manjit & Monroe, Kent B. (1993). How Buyers Perceive Savings in a Bundle Price: An Examination of a Bundle’s Transaction Value. Journal of Marketing Research, 30, 350-358.

 

"GENERATED AND SELECTED FAVORITES: ON AVAILABILITY AS A CUE FOR PREFERENCE"

Yuval Rottenstreich, University of Chicago

Sanjay Sood, UCLA

Lyle Brenner, University of Florida

What is the relationship between the cognitive availability of choice options and preference for those options? Some options are available precisely because they are highly liked. For example, when asked to name several local restaurants, a consumer is likely to recall restaurants she has recently enjoyed. Thus, preferences may drive option availability. In this research we examine the reciprocal relationship between availability and preference. We propose that a highly available option may be seen as attractive simply because it is easily called to mind. That is, consistent with work suggesting that availability is used to draw inferences about event likelihood (Tversky and Kahneman 1973), self-assessments (Schwarz et al. 1991), and brand evaluations (Wanke et al. 1997), we propose that availability may be used as a cue to preference.

We examine the effect of availability on preference in a series of experiments in which some consumers express preference when no options are explicitly provided ("What is your favorite fast-food restaurant?") and other consumers express preference given an explicitly provided list of options ("Which of the following is your favorite fast-food restaurant?"). We refer to preferences when options are not explicitly provided as generated favorites and preferences when options are explicitly provided as selected favorites. Across several tasks and contexts, we find that options higher in availability are relatively more likely to be generated favorites, whereas options lower in availability are relatively more likely to be selected favorites.

In Experiment 1, we document this pattern and show that the differences between generated and selected choice shares can be accounted for by independent measures of option availability. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that consumers use ease of option generation as a cue to preference, in effect confusing availability for preference. In Experiment 2, we replicate this pattern in categories where consumers are highly familiar with all the options in the category, and show that the relationship between availability and preference is not merely due to the inability to recall certain members of the category (which naturally cannot be generated if they are not recalledCcf. Nedungadi 1990). The discrepancy between generated and selected favorites occurs even in categories in which the set of all items is easily recalled (e.g., seasons of the year) and in categories where consumers have become familiar with all of the items based on exposure earlier in the experiment.

Two additional experiments examine moderators of the relationship between availability and preference. Experiment 3 investigates whether generated favorites in one category are sensitive to priming preferences in another category. Consumers first evaluated one of two types of pizza restaurants, either a national chain or a local upscale establishment. Later, consumers generated their favorite hamburger restaurant. Consumers who had been primed with a national pizza chain were more likely to generate a national hamburger chain as their favorite, while consumers who had been primed with a local upscale pizza restaurant were more likely to generate a local upscale hamburger restaurant as their favorite. This pattern suggests that option similarity may affect availability, which in turn serves as a cue to preference.

In Experiment 4 we examine the moderating effect of goals by manipulating whether consumers express their own preferences, or predict the preferences of another person (e.g., a close friend). We find that the relationship between availability and one’s own generated favorites is higher than the correlation between availability and one’s (generated) assessment of another person’s preferences. This pattern supports the hypothesis that availability serves as a cue for one’s own preferences, as the ease of option generation is presumably less likely to be viewed as a cue to somebody else’s preferences.

Taken together, the results of these experiments support the proposition that consumers use option availability as a cue to preference, and that factors such as priming and the goal of the consumer influence the relation between availability and preference.

References

Nedungadi, Prakash (1990), "Recall and Consumer Consideration Sets: Influencing Choice without Altering Brand Evaluations," Journal of Consumer Research, 17 (3), p.14.

Schwarz, Norbert, Herbert Bless, Fritz Strack, Gisela Klumpp, Helga Rittenauer-Schatka and Annette Simons (1991), "Ease of Retrieval as Information: Another Look at the Availability Heuristic," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61 (2), p.195.

Tversky, Amos and Daniel Kahneman (1973), "Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability," Cognitive Psychology, 5, p. 207.

Wanke, Michaela, Gerd Bohner and Andreas Jurkowitsch (1997), "There are Many Reasons to Drive a BMW: Does Imagined Ease of Argument Generation Influence Attitudes?" Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (September), p.170.

 

"COPING WITH AMBIVALENCE: THE EFFECT OF REMOVING A "FENCE SITTING" OPTION ON CONSUMER ATTITUDE AND PREFERENCE MEASUREMENT"

Stephen M. Nowlis, Arizona State University

Barbara E. Kahn, University of Pennsylvania

Ravi Dhar, Yale University

The concepts of attitude and preference remain among the most important in consumer and social psychology (Cacioppo et al. 1997; Solomon 1999; Simonson et al. 2001). Attitudes are typically based on consumers’ evaluation of both positive and negative components about a stimulus (Priester and Petty 1996), and as uch are typically conceptualized and measured as lying along a bipolar continuum that ranges from unfavorable to favorable (Eagly and Chaiken 1993; Priester and Petty 2001). For example, attitudes and preferences are measured in consumer and marketing research through self-reports in which respondents are asked to indicate their beliefs or feelings towards an object or class of objects on bipolar scales, such as Likert (or summated ratings) scales, semantic differential scales, or itemized ratings scales.

One of the critical issues in survey and marketing research is whether or not to allow respondents the option of "sitting on the fence," i.e., not committing to a positive or negative position. In attitude measurement, allowing respondents to sit on the fence corresponds to the use of odd-point scales, where there is a middle response alternative (hereafter referred to as a "neutral position"). In contrast, the use of even-point scales, where a neutral point is not offered, is akin to forcing respondents to choose a position, or to "jump off the fence". The traditional idea suggests that the qualitative results between the two scales are unaffected since if the respondents are truly neutral, then they will randomly choose one or the other, so forcing them to choose should not bias the overall results (Krosnick 2000, Presser and Schumann 1980).

In contrast to this traditional viewpoint, we identify the conditions under which the exclusion of a neutral position will shift the relative distribution of responses in a systematic manner. As long as the evoked reactions are (1) neither positive nor negative (i.e., close to indifference), or (2) either positive or negative, then using these bipolar scales with or without a neutral position may be appropriate and the traditional assumptions behind using odd or even scales may be acceptable. However, if respondents feel strongly conflicted between the positive and negative aspects of an object, then we hypothesize that the decision as whether or not to include a neutral option becomes more important. In such instances, the removal of the neutral position option in even-point scales may result in a predictable, systematic bias in the expression of attitudes. This conclusion results in the uncomfortable suggestion that attitude measurement can be systematically manipulated by changing the scale from odd to even.

We hypothesize that if consumers are experiencing ambivalence or feeling conflicted about making tradeoffs between the positive and negative components involved in attitude formation, they are likely to alleviate this discomfort by engaging in effort or conflict reducing heuristics if the "fence sitting" alternative is removed. In particular, if an attitude or preference evaluation requires making difficult tradeoffs, consumers forced to make the decision are likely to resort to a lexicographic rule and choose the option that is superior on the more important attribute. To understand this relationship more fully we present the findings of six studies, which compare the distribution of responses when there is a middle option in an odd-point scale to the distribution of opinion when the middle option is not present in an even-point scale. In these studies we examine factors that moderate the relationship, as well as provide evidence for the underlying process.

References

Cacioppo, John T., Richard E. Petty, and Chuan F. Kao (1984), "The Efficient Assessment of Need for Cognition," Journal of Personality Assessment, 48 (June), 306-307.

Simonson, Itamar, Ziv Carmon, Ravi Dhar, Aimee Drolet, and Stephen M. Nowlis (2001), "Consumer Research: In Search of Identity," Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 249-275.

Solomon, Michael (1999), Consumer Behavior, Upper Saddle river, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Priester, Joseph R. and Richard E. Petty (2001), "Extending the Bases of Subjective Attitudinal Ambivalence: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Antecedents of Evaluative Tension," Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 80 (1), 19-34.

Krosnick, Jon A. (2000), "The Causes and Consequences of No-Opinion Responses in Surveys," in R. M. Groves, D.A. Dillman, J.L. Eltinge, and R. J. A. Little (Eds.), Survey nonresponse. New York: Wiley.

Presser, Stanley and Howard Schumann (1980), "The Measurement of a Middle Position in Attitude Surveys," Public Opinion Quarterly, 44 (1), 108-123.

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Authors

Dipankar Chakravarti, University of Colorado, Boulder, U.S.A.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



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