Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Consumers differ in desire for explanation, says new study

Date:
September 18, 2012
Source:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Summary:
The depth of explanation about novel products influences consumer preferences and willingness to pay, according to a new study.

The depth of explanation about novel products influences consumer preferences and willingness to pay, according to a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder and Brown University.

When it comes to descriptions about the functions of new and unusual goods -- such as a self-watering plant system, special gloves for touchscreens or an eraser for wall scratches -- some people prefer minimal details. Dubbed "explanation foes" in the study, they gain a strong sense of understanding and desire for products through shallow explanations.

In contrast, other people -- dubbed "explanation fiends" in the study -- derive desire for products from deep and detailed explanations.

"There are these two different types of consumers," said lead author Phil Fernbach, assistant professor of marketing at CU-Boulder's Leeds School of Business. "On these two sides, consumers differ in the amount of detail that makes them feel like they understand and -- because of that feeling of understanding -- the amount of detail that will make them prefer a product."

A paper on the subject was published online today in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Researchers say the study results can help consumers make better decisions.

"We're not making a value judgment on whether it's better to be an 'explanation foe' or 'fiend,' " said Fernbach. "You don't have to want to know how stuff works, but make sure that your intuition about whether you understand a product is based on objective information and not just a feeling."

In one part of the study, participants were given varying explanations of a new tinted food wrapper product. "Explanation foes" highly rated their understanding and preference for the item when they read a simple description of how its "white coloring protects food from light that causes it to spoil, thereby keeping food fresh for longer."

"Explanation fiends" highly rated their understanding and preference for the food wrapper when they read a more detailed description of how "atoms in the tinting agent oscillate when hit by light waves causing them to absorb the energy and reflect it back rather than reaching food, where it would break the bonds holding amino acids together, thereby keeping food fresh for longer."

The study also found that "explanation foes," who are more common, tend to have an inflated sense of understanding about novel products. Their heightened perception disappears and their willingness to pay decreases when they attempt to explain how a product works.

Conversely, "explanation fiends" tend to have a more conservative sense of understanding about novel products. For them, attempting to explain how a product works does not have a negative effect on their sense of understanding and their opinion of the product stays the same or increases, according to the study.

Attitudes toward explanation were predicted by a cognitive reflection test that measures how much people naturally engage in deliberative thinking. Each test question elicits an intuitive but incorrect answer and participants who impulsively respond tend to err. These participants are the "explanation foes" who prefer less explanation.

In contrast, those who inhibit their initial responses to the cognitive reflection test and think more deeply tend to correctly answer. These participants are the "explanation fiends" who prefer more in-depth descriptions.

While the study can help consumers with better decision-making, it also yields advice for marketers.

"Marketers should target these different consumer groups with different types of explanations," said Steven Sloman, a study co-author and professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University.

Robert St. Louis and Julia Shube also were co-authors of the study. They were undergraduate students at Brown during the research. Unilever, a consumer goods company, supported the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Philip M. Fernbach, Steven A. Sloman, Robert St. Louis, Julia N. Shube. Explanation Fiends and Foes: How Mechanistic Detail Determines Understanding and Preference. Journal of Consumer Research, 2012; [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado at Boulder. "Consumers differ in desire for explanation, says new study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918112818.htm>.
University of Colorado at Boulder. (2012, September 18). Consumers differ in desire for explanation, says new study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918112818.htm
University of Colorado at Boulder. "Consumers differ in desire for explanation, says new study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918112818.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


How Much Product Information Do Consumers Want?

Sep. 18, 2012 In a new study, psychologists found that while some people require a detailed explanation of how a product works before they'll be willing to pay more, others became less willing to pay when ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins