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The Influence of choice justification and stimulus meaningfulness on the attraction effect: an information-processing perspective

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The "attraction effect" refers to the phenomenon in which preference for a target product increses relative to a competitor when a choice option that is dominated by the target brand but not by the competitor brand is included in the choice set. This finding reflects decision making that is inconsistent with principles of IIA and utility maximization. The present article offers an explanation for this nature of decision making in terms of fundamentals principles of information processing. The findings implicate two factors, data deficiency and cognitive resource deficiency, in the observation of the attraction effect. Specifically, the results show that when the product information is relatively "meaningless" and thus, data deficient, making respondents allocate greater cognitive resources to the decision task by asking them to justify their decision, increases the attraction effect. However, when the product information is quite "meaningful" and thus, not data deficient, increasing resource allocation by instructing respondents to justify choice, decreases the attraction effects. We propose that when the stimulus is less meaningful, the additional processing effort that justification induces is used to generate heuristics to justify choice , which enhance the attraction effect. However, when the stimulus is more meaningful, justification induces the effort necessary to engage in value maximization decisions that are devoid of context effects and this diminishes the attraction effect. The implications of these findings and future research directions are highlighted.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://flora.insead.edu/fichiersti_wp/inseadwp2000/2000-16.pdf

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Copyright INSEAD. All rights reserved