Recommended Reading / Theory

The Countability Effect

Jingjing Ma article

The Countability Effect: Comparative versus Experiential Reactions to Reward Distributions
Jingjing Ma and Neal J. Roese

Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 6 (April 2013), pp. 1219-1233
Published by: The University of Chicago Press

Link: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668087
[Registration required to access full article]

Abstract
The effect of inequity on satisfaction — consumers who are underbenefited are less satisfied than those who are overbenefited — is robust across many domains. However, various factors may moderate this effect, and a key perspective centers on value sensitivity. Countability (how easily a product or service can be counted using simple whole numbers) feeds into value sensitivity and thus moderates the impact of inequity on satisfaction. When rewards are less easily counted, the effect of inequity on satisfaction is diminished. Further, this effect is rooted to a mechanism in which less countable rewards shift cognitive focus from value comparison to consumption experience. This research contributes to literature on value sensitivity, comparative thinking, numerical information processing, fairness, and happiness.

See also: Happiness? When It Comes to Rewards, Don’t Count On It [Subscriber content]

See also: Cash Rewards Might Make Us Unhappy

Listen to podcast: Cash Rewards Might Make Us Unhappy

See also: Rewards programs: When do consumers compare experience over value?

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