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Scheller College of Business

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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
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    A Threat or a Promise?: Essays on Consumer Perception of Emerging Marketplace Technologies
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-08-01) Hyun, Na Kyong
    Rapid and ongoing technological innovation is transforming the lives of ordinary consumers. My dissertation examines how consumers’ perception of and relationships with modern technologies (smart agents, AI, voice-based interfaces) influence persuasion, behavior, and well-being. As firms become “smarter” than ever, utilizing vast customer information and advanced technologies to improve their marketing efforts, my research aims to inform managerial decisions that generate economic and social value, while ensuring consumer welfare. Chapter 1: Personality Perceptions of Consumer Smart Agents The ongoing evolution of consumer smart agents into daily interaction partners is raising important new questions about “social” perception and cognition in the context of consumer technology. Building on research in social perception of both human and nonhuman entities, I investigate how consumers assign humanlike personality traits to smart agents. The goals of Essay 1 are to construct a parsimonious, psychometrically valid instrument that captures perceptions of smart agent personality and to demonstrate this instrument’s utility for addressing important, managerially-relevant questions regarding consumer-device interactions. Across a series of studies, I develop a hierarchical model of smart agent personality that contains two high-level factors (“friendly” and “reliable”) with seven underlying facets. I demonstrate the reliability and validity of the measurement instrument with multiple methods, and I use follow up experiments to document unique and theory-compatible antecedents to each dimension. In a final study, I document how different agent “voices” impact downstream interaction variables through perceptions of agent friendliness and reliability. My findings suggest that consumers perceive smart agent personalities in a stable and coherent manner, and that careful construction of these personalities is a means of differentiation, diversification, and targeting to specific segments. Chapter 2: Vocal Similarity, Trust, and Persuasion in Consumer-Recommender Interactions I extend the principle of similarity-based attraction to the domain of the human voice, by examining how similarity in voice (timbre) can influence consumer choice. Using machine learning, I generate an objective measure of vocal similarity between an individual consumer and a recommender using mel-frequency cepstral coefficients (MFCCs) which capture vocal timbre. First, using data from 2,791 Kickstarter campaigns, I show that a spokesperson’s voice that is closer to an average-voice (i.e., the average MFCC scores from a large sample of sampled voices) results in higher persuasion, as measured by fundraised amount and campaign success – a result driven by vocal similarity. These effects are attenuated when external signals of campaign validity (staff endorsements) are present. Then, in five laboratory studies, I show that vocal similarity with a recommender (both human and simulated-human through AI) leads to greater trust, and consequently a higher likelihood of accepting the recommendation. I also show that objective and perceived voice similarity have similar results, with objective similarity mapping on to perceived similarity. The methods and findings provide a deeper understanding of consumer and recommender interactions, including new tools for voice analytics. Together, my essays inform understanding regarding consumer perception of modern technologies, factors that drive persuasion and customer relationship formation, and opportunities for future research in this emerging area.
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    Essays examining role-based behavior
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-07-29) Paul, Iman MI
    My dissertation examines role-based behavior in consumption contexts, with a particular focus on integrating contemporary social-role and identity theories with other, seemingly disparate theories such as tokenism and mental accounting. In addition to contributing to broad literature on identity-based consumption, my essays take a more granular approach by demonstrating that the relation between our consumption choices and “who we are” in terms of our social roles and social identities is more nuanced than previously thought. My essays are linked by the idea that social roles and identities affect judgments, attitudes, and private evaluations across a wide array of consumer contexts. Essay 1: Perceived Role Integration Increases the Fungibility of Mentally-accounted Resources While the literatures on mental accounting and social roles are vast, few (if any) scholars have examined their intersection. Bridging the gap, this essay examines how the extent to which an individual’s life roles (e.g., “employee” and “wife”) are integrated (i.e., the extent to which psychological barriers between life roles are permeable and frequently traversed) influences the fungibility of funds corresponding to those life roles (“role-aligned accounts”). Specifically, I show that funds in role-aligned accounts become more fungible as the corresponding life roles become more integrated. Accordingly, individuals with more integrated roles are: (i) more able to circumvent constraints typically imposed by mental accounts, and (ii) more likely to utilize resources from a mental account corresponding with one role to service the needs of the other role. I present evidence that the effect arises because integrated roles are perceived to share psychological properties like beliefs, values, goals, which allow the costs incurred in one role to be offset by benefits gained in the other. Essay 2: The Influence of Incidental Tokenism on Private Evaluations of Stereotype-Typifying Products In this essay, I argue that being an incidental token member of a transient group (e.g., a woman in a store queue that consists of mostly men) influences evaluations of products associated with the tokenized identity. Across five studies, I find that incidental tokenism activates negative stereotypes of the tokenized identity, which in turn create motivation to disassociate from identity-linked products that typify those stereotypes. Importantly, the motivation does not extend to identity-linked products in general. Similar results emerge when negative stereotypes are activated directly, and the effect is attenuated when tokenized individuals are given the opportunity to self-affirm. Extending past research in public and performance-based domains, my results demonstrate the nuanced consequences of tokenism for private evaluations in subjective, preference-based domains.
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    Effect of visual brand imagery on consumer brand perceptions and self-brand connections
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2016-08-03) Bajaj, Aditi
    My research examines whether and how the design of visual brand elements affect brand personality perceptions and self-brand connections. My two essays are linked by the idea that the design of visual brand elements affect the personal meaning of a brand to the consumer. As a result, marketers should systematically choose the design visual brand elements to communicate and strengthen their brand’s identity. The specifics are as follows. Essay 1 examines the role played by symmetry in the design of visual brand elements. Although prior research in aesthetics has established that visual symmetry generates positive affective response, I propose that symmetry can often play an important additional role, by affecting consumer perceptions regarding brand personality. Results of six experiments reveal that: 1) asymmetry in visual brand elements is associated by consumers with an exciting personality, 2) consumers prefer brands whose level of symmetry is congruent with their positioning, and 3) the effects of symmetry on personality perceptions are driven by subjective arousal. Together, my findings demonstrate that visual symmetry plays an important but nuanced role in the communication of brand identity. Essay 2 demonstrates that facial imagery in advertising leads to lower self-brand connections among female, but not male, consumers. Using literature on gender differences in information processing and face processing, I argue and find that faces in advertisements act as information, and that women, who pay more attention to faces than men, find it more difficult to generate consumption imagery when processing these advertisements. Because women engage in less visualization of themselves using the brand, they subsequently feel less connected to the brand. These results not only offer insights into how differences in information processing strategies of men and women affect responses to facial imagery in advertising, but also inform theories on how facial information constrains the generation of consumption imagery. In addition to contributing to the substantive field of visual design in marketing, my dissertation contributes broadly to research on branding by showing how visual brand imagery affects brand personality perceptions and self-brand connections.
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    The influence of consumption goals on decision processing and choice
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2015-06-24) Hair, Michael Lee
    My research examines how active consumption goals, defined as the benefits sought by the consumer, influence cognitive processes and decision outcomes. I address two common issues pertinent to consumer decisions. Consumers often face choices in which information is not readily available—requiring them to retrieve details from memory. Furthermore, consumer choices are frequently influenced by the type of attributes presented and the decision context itself, sometimes leading to negative outcomes and consequences. In two essays, I study how the activation of consumption goals can influence the manner in which decision-relevant information is encoded into memory, and may also influence the weighting of decision attributes and the outcomes of subsequent choices. The first essay explores the effects of goal activation and attribute valence on memory for information in a consumer decision setting. The second essay explores the factors that affect the helpfulness (or harmfulness) of consumption goal elicitation.
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    Social considerations in online word of mouth
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2014-06-06) Chen, Zhu
    Word of mouth (WOM) – or information shared among consumers themselves – has long been regarded as one of the most influential information sources for consumers (Brown and Reingen 1987). Unlike offline word of mouth, which typically occurs among people who know each other, online word of mouth typically occurs among strangers who do not know, and are unlikely to ever know, one other. While it is reasonable to assume that social concerns, such as maintaining relationships, are likely to influence people’s offline word of mouth behavior among familiar others, it is unclear whether social concerns dictate people’s online word of mouth behavior. In my dissertation, I look at how social considerations – thoughts about other people – affect people’s online word of mouth behavior. In the second chapter of my dissertation, I examine how people’s choice of word of mouth topic online is influenced by social considerations. Specifically, I find that while people enjoy talking about controversial topics because the topics are intrinsically interesting, people often times avoid these topics because they fear social rejection by their conversation partner. In chapter three, I examine how reviewers’ desire to appear logical (vs. imaginative) during word of mouth transmission affects their memory for the experience. I find that attempting to be logical negatively affects reviewer’s memory and this is due to the logic mindset activating verbal instead of perceptual processes during subsequent recall. In other words, impression management goals (e.g., to present oneself as a rational person) during word of mouth communication may be detrimental for people’s memory . Chapter four examines how consumer evaluations of reviews are driven by consumer beliefs about why reviews are written. I find that, in general, consumers tend to discount positive reviews because they think positive reviews are written for reviewer-specific reason such a self-enhancement or signaling expertise. When temporal contiguity cues – words and phrases indicating that the review was written immediately after the consumption experience – are present, however, people tend to give more credence to positive reviews because these cues make consumers think that the product experience, rather than reviewer-specific goals, precipitated the writing of the review. Taken together, my dissertation shows that social considerations affect both the transmission of word of mouth and the reception of online word of mouth. More generally, my dissertation showcases how thoughts about others (e.g., will others be offended?) influence consumer behavior even in situations where present and future social interactions are unlikely to occur.
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    Consumer judgment and forecasting using online word-of-mouth
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-07-03) He, Stephen Xihao
    Empowered by information technology, modern consumers increasingly rely upon online word-of-mouth (WOM--e.g., product reviews) to guide their purchase decisions. This dissertation investigates how WOM information is processed by consumers and its downstream consequences. First, the value of specific types of word-of-mouth information (e.g., numeric ratings, text commentary, or both) was explored for making forecast. After proposing an anchoring-and-adjustment framework for the utilization of WOM to inform consumer forecasts, I support this framework with a series of experiments. Results demonstrate that the relative forecasting advantage of different information types is a function of the extent to which consumer and reviewer have similar product-level preferences ('source-receiver similarity'). Second, I investigate the process by which dispersion--the degree to which opinions are divided for a product or service--in WOM is interpreted. Using an attribution-based approach, I argue that the effect of WOM dispersion is dependent on the perceived cause of that dispersion, which is systematically related to perceptions of preference heterogeneity in a product category. For products for which preferences are expected to vary, dispersion is likely to be attributed to the reviewers rather than the product itself, and therefore tolerated. I provide evidence for my hypotheses in a series of experiments where WOM dispersion is manipulated and respondents make choices and indicate purchase intentions.
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    The good, the bad and the content: beyond negativity bias in online word-of-mouth
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012-06-26) Yin, Dezhi
    My dissertation aims to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how consumers make sense of online word-of-mouth. Each essay in my dissertation probes beyond the effect of rating valence and explores the role of textual content. In the first essay, I explore negativity bias among online consumers evaluating peer information about potential sellers. I propose that both the likelihood of negativity bias and resistance to change after a trust violation will depend on the domain of information discussed in a review. Three experiments showed that negativity bias is more prominent for information regarding sellers' integrity than information regarding their competence. These findings suggest that the universality of negativity bias in a seller review setting has been exaggerated. In the second essay, I examine the impact of emotional arousal on the perceived helpfulness of text reviews. I propose an inverse U-shaped relationship by which the arousal conveyed in a text review will be associated by readers with lower perceived helpfulness only beyond an optimal level, and that the detrimental effect of arousal is present for negative reviews even when objective review content is controlled for. To test these hypotheses, two studies were conducted in the context of Apple's mobile application market. In Study 1, I collected actual review data from Apple's App Store, coded those reviews for arousal using text analysis tools, and examined the non-linear relationship between arousal and review helpfulness. In Study 2, I experimentally manipulated the emotional arousal of reviews at moderate to high levels while holding objective content constant. Results were largely consistent with the hypotheses. This essay reveals the necessity of considering emotional arousal when evaluating review helpfulness, and the results carry important practical implications. In the third essay, I explore effects of the emotions embedded in a seller review on its perceived helpfulness to readers. I propose that over and above the well-known negativity bias, the impact of discrete emotions in a review will vary, and that one source of this variance is perceptions of reviewers' cognitive effort. I focus on the roles of two distinct, negative emotions common to seller reviews: anxiety and anger. In Studies 1 and 2, experimental methods were utilized to identify and explain the differential impact of anxiety and anger in terms of perceived reviewer effort. In Study 3, actual seller reviews from Yahoo! Shopping websites were collected to examine the relationship between emotional review content and helpfulness ratings. These findings demonstrate the importance of discriminating between discrete emotions in online word-of-mouth, and they have important repercussions for consumers and online retailers.
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    The Effect of Payment Format on Consumer Affect and Behavior
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, ) Abrams, Deborah
    All else equal, consumer evaluation of a purchase should not logically depend on the form of payment that is used. However, voluminous research on the “pain of payment” phenomenon has shown that payment format impacts transaction-based affect, cognition, and behavior (Prelec and Loewenstein, 1998; Soman, 2003; Raghubir and Srivastava, 2008). As introduced by Zellermayer (1996), “pain of payment” captures the notion that the physical act of paying for a product or service induces a negative emotional response. This response takes the form of “hedonic vexation” that is related to but distinct from physical pain, stress, or the fear that spending money will diminish future buying power. Given the introduction in recent years of entirely new payment formats, including many consumer-to-consumer payment platforms (e.g. Venmo, PayPal), it is more important than ever to understand how consumers feel and behave when making payments or receiving money. In chapter 1, I focus on the receiving end of the transaction by exploring how consumers react to being paid in cash versus other monetary formats. To address the question, I define “joy of receipt” (JOR) as a positive affective reaction that consumers experience when receiving money. I consider the extent to which different monetary formats produce different JOR, as well as the ramifications for subsequent spending behavior. Three studies show that consumers feel momentarily wealthier when they are paid in cash (an especially salient monetary format) than credit or mobile payments. These feelings of wealth lead to greater joy of receipt and a greater likelihood of spending. Chapter 2 focuses on the relationship between payment format and pain of payment. Previous work has identified temporality and transparency as important drivers of the pain of payment phenomenon. However, that work has largely ignored the wide variety of payment formats that have emerged in recent years. I argue that novel forms of payment lead to consumer excitement (a positive emotion), and thereby lower pain of payment. In a series of studies, I demonstrate that consumers experience less pain of payment when paying with a mobile phone than with a credit card or cash. Additionally, I argue that novelty in a payment format need not depend on technological innovation. As evidence, I demonstrate that the design and denomination of currency can also be used to create perceived novelty.