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

See all articles by Joseph Lajos

Joseph Lajos

Zsolt Katona

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Amitava Chattopadhyay

INSEAD - Marketing

Miklos Sarvary

INSEAD - Marketing

Date Written: September 4, 2008

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Lajos, Joseph and Katona, Zsolt and Chattopadhyay, Amitava and Sarvary, Miklos, CAM: A Spreading Activation Network Model of Subcategory Construction when Categorization Uncertainty is High (September 4, 2008). INSEAD Business School Research Paper No. 2008/56/MKT/ISSRC. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1032148 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1032148

Zsolt Katona (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Amitava Chattopadhyay

INSEAD - Marketing ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
Fontainebleau, 77305
France
(33) 1 60 71 2643 (Phone)

Miklos Sarvary

INSEAD - Marketing ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
Fontainebleau, 77305
France
(33) (0)1 60 72 40 0 (Phone)
(33) (0)1 60 74 55 00 (Fax)

No contact information is available for Joseph Lajos

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