How Naive Theories Drive Opposing Inferences from the Same Information
Hélène Deval, Susan P. Mantel, Frank R. Kardes, and Steven S. Posavac
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 6 (April 2013), pp. 1185-1201
Published by The University of Chicago Press
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Consumers often make inferences to fill in gaps in knowledge when they do not have complete information regarding products. Eight experiments show that consumers often have contradictory naive theories about the implications of common market phenomena and that they draw different conclusions as a function of which naive theory is primed, even when available information is held constant. Results indicate that conflicting naive theories about pricing, sales promotion, product popularity versus scarcity, and technical language drive product evaluation. Consumers who have expertise in a given product category are less susceptible to the priming of a naive theory. This research contributes to more precise understanding of how consumers will respond to different levels of key marketing variables and how marketing tactics can backfire.