CAM: A Spreading Activation Network Model of Subcategory Construction when Categorization Uncertainty is High
45 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2007 Last revised: 18 Jun 2013
Date Written: September 4, 2008
Many new products (e.g., PDA phones) share features with multiple categories, but are also substantially different from each of these categories. When consumers encounter such a product, they may create a new subcategory (e.g., smart phones) to accommodate it. In such situations, consumers must decide where within the category structure to position the new subcategory (e.g., under the PDA category or under the phone category). We develop a spreading activation model that we call the Category Activation Model (CAM) to predict where within a category structure consumers are likely to position a subcategory that they have created to accommodate a new, hybrid product. Based on this model, we hypothesize that the probability that an individual will position a new category subordinate to a particular category i is proportional to the relative number of categories that are already subordinate to i. We report the results of three studies that support this hypothesis, and provide evidence that accessibility is an underlying mechanism.
Keywords: Consumer Psychology, Information Processing, Categorization, New Products, Hybrid Products, Experimental Design and Analysis, Network Analysis
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