Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Moore School of Business

First Advisor

Elise Chandon Ince

Abstract

Numerical information is ubiquitous in consumer contexts, consumers rely on numerical information to evaluate product attributes, make judgments and decisions, and make predictions for relevant outcomes. This dissertation investigates how numerical information influence consumer judgment and preferences.

Essay 1 introduces the concept of numerical expressions—numerical quantifiers such as pairs, trios, quartets, dozens—and demonstrates that consumers prefer offers expressed using numerical expressions (e.g., buy a dozen health drinks) relative to their numerical counterpart (e.g., buy 12 health drinks). This occurs because numerical expressions are perceived to be more complete and are easier to justify, and therefore serve as goals in consumption contexts. I provide support across different contexts, using different combinations of numbers, and provide process evidence. I also demonstrate how managers can use this to increase efficacy of their offers.

Essay 2 investigates consumer predictions. Consumers are increasingly exposed to numerical quantities in a wide variety of contexts, ranging from economic and financial reports to product attributes. In many instances, consumers need to use these data to make inferences about the future. While past research indicates that consumers often extrapolate trends to make forecasts, little is known about how consumers make inferences about the future when they only have one data point. I propose that, in the absence of trend information, consumers have a systematic expectation that numbers will increase (vs. decrease) in the future. I draw from research on numerical cognition and combine elements of mental number line and mental time line with mental metaphors to explain these effects. In six studies, I demonstrate that consumers expect numbers to increase in a variety of domains, regardless of outcome valence. Most importantly, this research provides a managerially relevant implication and shows how charitable organizations can improve the effectiveness of their communication and better persuade potential donors relying on this consumer expectation. I conclude with implications and suggestions for future research.

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