Guided by expectations: Different approaches lead to different conclusions

Mar 31, 2009

Consumers often make decisions by predicting how they'll feel after an event or purchase. But different approaches to predicting lead to different conclusions, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors Jane E. J. Ebert (University of Minnesota), Daniel T. Gilbert (Harvard University), and Timothy D. Wilson (University of Virginia) examined the difference between two common ways of predicting emotions: forecasting and "backcasting."

According to the authors, forecasters imagine how they'll feel when an event occurs and then consider how they'll feel subsequent to the event. In contrast, backcasters imagine their feelings in a future period and then consider the effects of an event. As an example, the authors give an example of a potential ad for a cruise. An ad that encouraged backcasting could read as follows: "How are you going to be feeling in frigid February? Imagine you take a sun-filled Caribbean cruise next week. Now imagine how you will feel in February. Help yourself through the winter…book a cruise today."

The authors conducted several studies where they examined the thoughts of forecasters and backcasters and systematically varied the information available to participants. They discovered that when predicting their feelings for events, backcasters considered information about the event and the future time period more than the forecasters did. As a result, backcasters predicted more extreme feelings than forecasters did. Therefore, it would be beneficial for marketers to encourage backcasting in .

"These differences in the information that backcasters and forecasters consider and in the predictions they make suggest that simply changing the order in which consumers think about a potential event and an upcoming future time period can markedly change their expectations about their feelings following the event," the researchers explain.

"Marketers should be able to change consumers' expectations about their feelings simply by prompting them to think ahead to the future before considering a consumption event," the authors conclude.

More information: Jane E. J. Ebert, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Timothy D. Wilson. "Forecasting and Backcasting: Predicting the Impact of Events on the Future." : October 2009.

Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

Explore further: Consumer loyalty driven by aesthetics over functionality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The 'best ever' marketing strategy? Maybe not, study says

Mar 27, 2007

Marketing is often filled with hype and superlatives—the greatest, the best and even “heavenly”—but a new University of Georgia study that uncovers a curious aspect of human psychology could change how companies pitch ...

How often will you use that treadmill?

Nov 17, 2008

Why not buy that treadmill? You'll be exercising every day, right? A new study
in the Journal of Consumer Research examines why our expectations of our
behavior so often don't match reality.

Consumer behavior linked with emotions

Nov 15, 2005

Scientists at Pennsylvania State University and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands say extraneous emotions can affect consumer purchases.

Overdoing it? Simple techniques can help avoid overindulgence

Feb 23, 2009

Some people overindulge on junk foods or needless shopping sprees when they feel depressed. Others lose control the minute they feel happy. Is there a way to avoid such extreme actions? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Re ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

6 hours ago

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

6 hours ago

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

7 hours ago

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

Consumer loyalty driven by aesthetics over functionality

23 hours ago

When designing a new car, manufacturers might try to attract consumers with more horsepower, increased fuel efficiency or a lower price point. But new research from San Francisco State University shows consumers' loyalty ...

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.