Thursday, November 20, 2008

Towelie Logic

The Society for Judgment and Decision Making held its annual conference this past weekend in beautiful (but cold) downtown Chicago. Roughly 500 researchers from around the world gathered to discuss the latest findings in the JDM realm. This was my second conference and it did not disappoint.

One talk that caught my attention was entitled “Will a Rose Smell as Sweet by Another Name? Specification-Seeking in Decision-Making.” The talk was presented by Christopher Hsee (University of Chicago Graduate School of Business) and Yang Yang (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) based on their forthcoming paper in Journal of Consumer Research. As described in their abstract:

“We offer a framework about when and how specifications (e.g., megapixels of a camera, number of airbags in a massage chair) influence consumer preferences and report five studies that test the framework. Studies 1-3 show that even when consumers can directly experience the relevant products and the specifications carry little or no new information, their preference is still influenced by specifications, including specifications that are self-generated and by definition spurious, and specifications that the respondents themselves deem uninformative. Studies 4 and 5 show that relative to choice, hedonic preference (liking) is more stable and less influenced by specifications.”

I provide an overview of the towel study from the paper as well as my take on the findings in last night’s broadcast.

1 comment:

ryan said...

Justin, I'll leave you to do the legwork, but I recently heard of a study that asked people to assess their "liking" of certain people.... perhaps based on pictures... I'm not exactly sure. The surveyers found that when the respondents held a warm beverage, they were more likely to like the person. I was told that they actually did some EEG-based brain mapping and found that warmth in the palm activates the same region as approving of someone, but this may have also been speculation from the person I was conversing with.