July 21, 2010
No Pain, No Gain? Concrete Thinking Increases Consumer Confidence
The confidence you feel when making a choice might depend on whether you're thinking concretely or abstractly, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"In three experiments across a sample of 750 participants, we found that subjective feelings of ease experienced during judgments (choosing a digital camera, art, movie, or charity) can increase or decrease confidence in their choice and the amount of donation depending on whether consumers are thinking, respectively, concretely or abstractly," write authors Claire I. Tsai (University of Toronto) and Ann L. McGill (University of Chicago).
The authors tested their hypothesis in a number of product categories including electronics, art, movies, and charitable giving. They manipulated ease of processing by varying clarity of ad messages or the number of thoughts generated to explain participant choices. They induced abstract (or concrete) thinking by asking participants to focus on the why (or how) aspects of an event.
"We found that when consumers are thinking more concretely and focusing on details of product information, ease of processing"”making a choice based on a clear ad or a few reasons"”increases confidence," the authors write. "Difficulty of processing"”making a choice based on a blurry ad or having to generate many reasons to explain one's choice"”decreases confidence."
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