Robert Goedegebure (WUR-UEC) A neural account of how product popularity influences choice behavior using a social and quality focus

Organised by Section Economics

Tue 11 February 2020 12:30 to 13:30

Venue Leeuwenborch, gebouwnummer 201
Room C79
Previous research has shown that consumers may choose popular products for either normative incentives or informational incentives, reflected by inferences of social approval and quality respectively. This study extends those insights by introducing the notion that a single popularity cue can trigger both types of inferences. We show that, on a neurological and psychological level, the types of inferences are represented by two distinct routes that differently influence the value derived from product popularity. To unravel these two routes, this study draws upon insights from research on consumer mindsets. The results of an fMRI experiment and a behavioral task show that consumers who adopt a social (versus normal) mindset or a quality (versus normal) mindset use popularity to derive value differently. We find that the value derived in a social mindset is made up out of inferences of social approval and general reward value, and positively affects preferences. The value derived in a quality mindset is made up out of inferences of quality and negatively affects preferences. Our study provides evidence for these two distinct patterns on a neural level (i.e., different brain regions) and a behavioral level (i.e., different inferences). Because the research that we report is conducted with a neuroscientific and consumer behavior approach, this study adds a unique theoretical contribution to our understanding of social influences and the effect of product popularity.
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