Thinking about what you don't think about: the role of mental simulation in preference consistency and new product evaluation Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Zhao, Min
    • Affiliation: Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • According to the accessibility-diagnosticity framework, momentarily more accessible aspects of a product can have a disproportionate influence over the evaluation of the product by blocking other aspects of the product that are less accessible, yet perhaps more diagnostic. In the three essays of my dissertation, I investigate how to use different types of mental simulation to enhance the accessibility of the naturally ignored information to overcome related negative consequences. In essay 1, I combine research on choice over time and process vs. outcome-focused mental simulation. Choice over time research indicates that high-level desirability considerations are more accessible for the distant future and low-level feasibility considerations are more accessible for the near future, leading to preference inconsistency over time. I propose that preference consistency could be achieved through: 1) outcome simulation (which is focused on the desirability consideration of an event) for the near future, or 2) process simulation (which is focused on the feasibility consideration of an event) for the distant future, due to the complementary role of each type of mental simulation at each point in time. In addition, I propose that time is a key factor that could potentially explain the conflicting findings in the mental simulation literature regarding the effectiveness of process vs. outcome simulation. In essay 2, I investigate the domain of new products and find that while high-level desirability considerations appear more accessible than low-level feasibility considerations for incrementally new products (INPs), really new product (RNPs) are represented with both the desirability and feasibility considerations. As such, the traditional process and outcome simulation do not differ in terms of their impact on product evaluations for RNPs. However, when examining the specific information processing modes with a cognitive or affective focus, I find that outcome simulation is more effective at increasing the evaluation of RNPs than process simulation under a cognitive mode, whereas the reversal is true under an affective mode. Further, the degree of planning and level of uncertainty and are found to partially mediate this interactive effect. In essay 3, I switch to a different dimension of consumers' mental representations when evaluating new products: memory vs. imagination-focused representations. I demonstrate that people naturally rely on the more readily accessible images from their past memories while neglecting imaginative new activities. I propose and test the effect of the imaginative-focused visualization strategy which enhances the naturally neglected imaginative new uses of the RNPs and leads to higher evaluation for RNPs. In addition, essay 3 indicates that ease of imagination directly impacts product evaluation for RNPs such that higher ease leads to higher evaluations. In all three studies of essay 3, focus of visualization and ease of visualization have a limited role on the evaluation of INPs.
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  • In Copyright
  • Zauberman, Gal
  • Hoeffler, Steve
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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