Need to move soon? Don't trust your emotions

Dec 11, 2012

Consumers are more likely to make emotional instead of objective assessments when the outcomes are closer to the present time than when they are further away in the future, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"The proximity of a decision's outcome increases consumer reliance on feelings when making decisions. Feelings are relied upon more when the outcome is closer in time because these feelings appear to be more informative in such situations," write authors Hannah H. Chang (Singapore Management University) and Michel Tuan Pham (Columbia University).

From which to buy to which apartment to rent, we base many of our decisions on either feelings or objective assessment. The option that appeals more to our feelings is often not the one that "makes more sense." When do consumers rely more on their feelings than objective assessments? And how does the proximity of the decision outcome influence -making? For example, when looking for an apartment to rent, some consumers may decide which apartment to rent only a week before moving in, while others may decide several months in advance.

In one study, college students were asked to imagine that they were about to graduate, had found a well-paying job, and were looking for an apartment to rent after . They were then given a choice between an apartment that appeals more to their feelings (a smaller, prettier apartment with better views) and an option that is objectively better (a bigger, more conveniently located apartment). Compared to college juniors and those who imagined graduating a year later, college seniors and those who imagined graduating and moving into an apartment next month were more likely to choose the former option.

"Companies should consider the time between consumer decision-making and consumption. When consumers will be deciding immediately prior to (choosing an entrée at a restaurant or a mobile phone plan), companies should focus on messages that appeal to consumers' . When they will be deciding well in advance (choosing a retirement plan or booking flights), companies should focus less on emotional appeals and instead emphasize messages that appeal to objective assessments," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Disadvantaged men more likely to do 'women's work' reveals new study

More information: Hannah H. Chang and Michel Tuan Pham. "Affect as a Decision-Making System of the Present." Journal of Consumer Research: June 2013.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Should consumers trust their feelings as information?

Jun 19, 2012

Consumers who trust their feelings are more likely to make choices based on what "feels right" even when feelings are irrelevant to their decision, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Product choice: When are consumers most satisfied?

Nov 13, 2012

Consumers may be less satisfied with the choices they make if their options are presented one at a time rather than all at once, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Recommended for you

The psychology of gift-giving and receiving

5 hours ago

Gift exchanges can reveal how people think about others, what they value and enjoy, and how they build and maintain relationships. Researchers are exploring various aspects of gift-giving and receiving, such as how givers ...

Strong neighborhood ties can help reduce gun violence

7 hours ago

The bonds that tie a neighborhood together can help shield community members from gun violence, according to new findings by Yale School of Medicine researchers in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.