Consuming Now or Later? The Interactive Effect of Timing and Attribute Alignability
Selin A. Malkoc
Washington University in Saint Louis - Olin Business School
University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department
Duke University - Fuqua School of Business
Psychological Science, Forthcoming
Decisions are often temporally separated from their outcomes. Using theories of structural alignment and temporal construal, we examined how temporal distance and the associated shift in decision processes moderate susceptibility to context effects. Specifically, in two experiments (one hypothetical, one with real outcomes) we demonstrated that people attend relatively more to non-alignable differences when the outcome of the decision is in the distant compared to the near future. We show this shift in decision processes by using preference and choice data as well as coded written protocols. We further show that this temporal shift cannot be explained by differential involvement with the decision or by the feasibility/desirability of the attributes. Our findings establish temporal distance as an important moderator of structural alignment effects, as well as extending the implications of temporal construal theory beyond the characteristics of the attributes to the structural relationships among attributes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Intertemporal Choice, Temporal Construal, Alignability
JEL Classification: D90, M0, M30
Date posted: August 16, 2004 ; Last revised: October 21, 2012
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