Kill Two Birds With One Soap: the Multifinality Pursuit and the Need For Closure

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - The present studies investigate the influence of need for cognitive closure (Kruglanski & Webster, 1996) on the multifinality pursuit (Chun et al., 2004; Kruglanski et al., 2002), that is, a desire for achieving multiple goals by using a single means. Although AKilling two birds with one stone@ sounds like an eminently rational strategy, especially in the domain of product consumption, its degree of implementation may depend on individual differences in need for closure. Across a broad range of goals and means, the present findings support our theoretical predictions that the multifinality pursuit of individuals high in need for closure would result in the use, preference, and choice of multifunctional over unifunctional products.



Citation:

Woo Young Chun and Arie W. Kruglanski (2005) ,"Kill Two Birds With One Soap: the Multifinality Pursuit and the Need For Closure", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Yong-Uon Ha and Youjae Yi, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 261.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2005      Page 261

KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE SOAP: THE MULTIFINALITY PURSUIT AND THE NEED FOR CLOSURE

Woo Young Chun, University of Maryland, U.S.A.

Arie W. Kruglanski, University of Maryland, U.S.A.

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

The present studies investigate the influence of need for cognitive closure (Kruglanski & Webster, 1996) on the multifinality pursuit (Chun et al., 2004; Kruglanski et al., 2002), that is, a desire for achieving multiple goals by using a single means. Although "Killing two birds with one stone" sounds like an eminently rational strategy, especially in the domain of product consumption, its degree of implementation may depend on individual differences in need for closure. Across a broad range of goals and means, the present findings support our theoretical predictions that the multifinality pursuit of individuals high in need for closure would result in the use, preference, and choice of multifunctional over unifunctional products.

Our first study taps differential multifinality beliefs espoused by high and low need for closure individuals. Investigating participants’ preferences for proverbs, it is found that individuals high (vs. low) in need for closure exhibit a significant preference for the pro-multifinality proverb of 'killing two birds with one stone’ over an anti-multifinality proverb enjoining individuals not to run after 'two hares’, lest neither will be caught. These initial findings begin to demonstrate that for high need for closure individuals, the pursuit of multifinality may represent an explicit maxim of one’s conduct, providing guidelines for choices, preferences and activities.

The findings of our second study show that high (vs. low) need for closure individuals’ pursuit of multifinality affects their use of means or products in real life contexts. Specifically, in this research individuals high in need for closure reported that they were using computers to achieve more goals than did individuals low in that need, even though these two groups did not differ in the amount of time spent with computers nor in their frequency of computer use.

Our subsequent studies went on to examine whether individuals high (vs. low) in need for closure pursue multifinality even when it involves a sacrifice in the quality of goals (Study 3), or when it comes at a particularly high price (Study 4). Study 3 found that when the number of goals that could be achieved by choosing a camera was in conflict with the quality that the camera promises, the preference of individuals high (vs. low) in need for closure was more heavily influenced by the number of goals rather than by the quality factor. Specifically, high (but not low) need for closure individuals tended to prefer a multifunctional camera over the unifunctional one even if the unifunctional camera guarantied a better quality of pictures than the multifunctional camera. Study 4 extended this finding to the situation wherein the pursuit of multifinality was in conflict with economic considerations. Specifically, it was found that individuals high (vs. low) in need for closure have a greater tendency to choose the multifunctional cellular phone even if it comes at a substantially higher cost. These results suggest that individuals high (vs. low) in need for closure are likely to pursue multifinality, even when its efficacy or rationality are limited by other considerations, such as those of quality or of price. That is, the rationality of the mulitifinality pursuit may be bounded by people’s epistemic motivation, the need for closure.

Finally, Study 5 completes our investigation by demonstrating that individuals high (vs. low) in need for closure prefer a single multifinal means over a number of unifinal means affording the attainment of the same number of goals. Specifically, Study 5 finds that high (vs. low) in need for closure individuals are likely to use a single means (i.e., one soap) to fulfill two goals (i.e., washing both their face and body), instead of using two different means for the same number of goals (i.e., a facial cleanser for washing face and a soap for washing body). Of additional importance, these preferences were qualified by the gender of users: Females were more motivated to take care of their skin and hence they were relatively low in need for closure due to their 'fear of invalidity’ (Kruglanski, 1989) in regard to cosmetic products as compared to males. Therefore, we found that females were more likely to use two different products regardless of individual differences in need for closure, whereas males’ use of products for their face and body depended on individual differences in need for closure. Males low in need for closure were likely to use two different products for washing face and body, while males high in need for closure were likely to choose and use a single soap for both these goals.

Taken together, these results illustrate that high (vs. low) need for closure individuals’ pursuit of multifinality is a robust phenomenon applicable across a variety of situations including the preference of proverbs (Study 1) and cameras (Study 3), the use of computers (Study 2) and soap (Study 5), and the choice of cellular phones (Study 4). It is also important to note that our hypotheses appear to hold true in everyday life contexts as well as in the lab. Indeed, results obtained from Studies 2 and 5 in particular suggest that the pursuit of multifinality may be an underpinning precept guiding high (vs. low) need for closure individuals’ judgments and behaviors in diverse everyday situations pertinent to consumer behavior.

REFERENCES

Chun, Woo Young, Arie W. Kruglanski, David Sleeth-Keppler, and Ronald S. Friedman (2004). On the psychology of quasi-rational decisions: The multifinality principle in choice without awareness. Under Review.

Kruglanski, Arie W. (1989). Lay epistemics and human knowledge: Cognitive and motivational bases. New York: Plenum.

Kruglanski, Arie W., James Y. Shah, Ayelet Fishbach, Ronald S. Friedman, Woo Young Chun, and David Sleeth-Keppler (2002). A theory of goal system. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.). Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 34, pp. 331-376). New York: Academic Press.

Kruglanski, Arie W. and Donna M. Webster (1996). Motivated closing of the mind: "Seizing" and "freezing". Psychological Review, 103(2), 263-283.

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Authors

Woo Young Chun, University of Maryland, U.S.A.
Arie W. Kruglanski, University of Maryland, U.S.A.



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2005



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