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A busy mind is the devil's workshop : attitude-behavior disruption in consumer settings

Authors Sengupta, Jaideep
Fitzsimons, Gavan J.
Issue Date 1998-01
Source Marketing Working Paper Series ; MKTG 98.108
Summary Research on the effects of analyzing reasons on the link between attitude and behavior has shown that when people are unsure about the reasons for their preferences, asking them to analyze their reasons may actually lead to a disruption of the attitude-behavior link. We extend this research to the context of new products and suggest that for such contexts, marketers and advertisers may be well advised not to encourage consumers to think too much about their preferences. We show that asking consumers to think about the reasons why they feel the way they do about a new product can, under certain conditions, lead to reported attitudes that are less predictive of future behavior than are the attitudes of consumers not asked to analyze their reasons. Further, we seek to establish some boundary conditions for the disruptive effect of analyzing reasons. Two such conditions (delay between attitude measurement and behavior; and timing of the reasons manipulation) are explored in two different studies, and show that the disruption effect may be averted or even reversed under certain conditions. Specifically, analyzing reasons can actually increase the strength of the attitude-behavior link, when the measure of behavior closely follows the measure of attitude. Further, even when there is a delay between attitude and behavior, disruption is prevented when reasons are analyzed after attitudes have been reported. Our findings enable us to reconcile the literature relating to the disruption effect with other streams of research which offer opposing predictions.
Language English
Format Working paper
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