The Society for Consumer Psychology is the voice of the global consumer psychology world. They have a hand in mentoring behavioural scientists, advocating excellence, and spreading the word and work of the discipline world-wide.

With the help of the SCP we will be providing you a quarterly round up of the results of some of the most interesting, relevant, and cutting edge studies in the world of consumer psychology.

Popcorn in the Cinema: Oral Interference Sabotages Advertising Effects
Advertising uses repetition to increase consumers’ preference for brands. Initially novel brands gain in positivity due to repetition, which increases the likelihood that consumers later buy the brands. Basic psychological research has already shown that the psychological mechanism behind this repetition effect is the easiness with which we perceive information. Repeatedly perceived information is easier to process for the brain, which saves capacity, and thus feels positive.

Recent research, across two field studies, at the University of Cologne has shown that this feeling of easiness and thus repetition effects actually stem from the mouth. Each time we encounter a person’s or product name, the lips and the tongue automatically simulate the pronunciation of that name. This happens covertly, that is, without our awareness and without actual mouth movements. When names are presented repeatedly, this articulation simulation is trained and thus runs more easily for repeated compared to novel names. Crucially, if this inner speech is disturbed, for instance during chewing gum or whispering another word, the articulation of words cannot be trained and the repetition effect vanishes. Chewing people are immune to word repetition, and are immune to the effects of advertising.

Brands as Product Coordinators: Matching Brands Make Joint Consumption Experiences More Enjoyable
People often consume multiple products at the same time , (e.g., chips and salsa). Four studies, carried out by the University of Minnesota,  demonstrate that people enjoy such joint consumption experiences more when the products are labeled with the same brand as opposed to different brands.

Process evidence shows that this brand matching effect arises because matching brand labels cue consumers’ belief that the two products were coordinated through joint testing and design to go uniquely well together. The study highlights the importance of brand interaction in understanding enjoyment and shows that there is no universal answer to which brand a consumer likes the most; it depends on what other brands are consumed with it. More generally, the authors establish that a simple additive model of brand liking cannot fully capture consumption utility and that brands interact and influence enjoyment at the level of the brand combination.

In Search of a Surrogate for Touch: The Effect of Haptic Imagery on Perceived Ownership
Previous research has shown that individuals value objects more highly if they own them, a finding commonly known as the endowment effect. In fact, simply touching an object can create a perception of ownership that produces the endowment effect.

In a recent study by the University of Wisconsin they extended this line of research in several ways. First, they demonstrated that haptic imagery, or imagining touching an object, can have the same effect on perceived ownership as physical touch.

They were then able demonstrate that haptic imagery can lead to perceptions of physical control, which in turn increase feelings of ownership. Moreover, the more vivid the haptic imagery, the greater the perception of control and the feeling of ownership.

Product touch is a key component of consumer behaviour. Whether consumers touch to obtain information or to enjoy sensory feedback, touch plays an important role in purchase decisions. The  investigation of haptic imagery as a surrogate for touch suggests that the vividness of the imagery is key; the more vivid the haptic imagery, the greater the sense of physical control and the stronger the perceived ownership.

Thanks to The Society of Consumer Psychology and Elina Halonen for their contributions.

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