Choice under incomplete information on incumbents: Why consumers with stronger preferences are more likely to abandon their prior choices

Caglar Irmak, Thomas Kramer, Sankar Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Consumers often encounter information about new brands that is not available for their preliminary or prior choices. For example, continued browsing might expose consumers to information that is unknown for an option they already placed in their shopping cart. How might preference strength affect their reactions to such missing information on their prior choices? Much research suggests that consumers with strong prior preferences are likely to employ motivated reasoning to bolster and retain the preliminary choice. However, we document a heretofore unexamined condition under which those with relatively stronger prior preferences for an incumbent are more likely to abandon it than those with weaker prior preferences. We argue that this occurs because those with relatively stronger (vs. weaker) prior preferences experience more cognitive dissonance when information on new attributes is missing on just the incumbent but not on its competitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jun 21 2015

Keywords

  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Preference strength
  • Preliminary choices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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