Multiple routes to self- versus other-expression in consumer choice

Multiple routes to self- versus other-expression in consumer choice

By
Michal Maimaran, Itamar Simonson
Journal of Marketing Research. August
2011, Vol. 48, Issue 4, Pages 755-766

Studies of consumer decision making often begin with the identification of a dimension on which options differ, followed by an analysis of the factors that influence preferences along that dimension. Building on a conceptual analysis of a diverse set of problems, the authors identify a class of related consumers choices (e.g., extreme vs. compromise, hedonic vs. utilitarian, risky vs. safe) that can all be classified according to their levels of self- versus other-expression (or [un]conventionality). as shown in four studies, these problem types respond similarly to manipulations that trigger or suppress self-expression. Specifically, priming self-expression systematically increases the share of the self-expressive options across choice problems. conversely, expecting to be evaluated decreases the share of the self-expressive options across the various choice dilemmas. in addition, priming risk seeking increases only the choice of risky gambles but not of other self-expressive options. these findings highlight the importance of seeking underlying shared features across different consumer choice problems, instead of treating each type in isolation.