Mental Simulation and Preference Consistency Over Time: The Role of Process-Versus Outcome-Focused Thoughts

Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XLIV, pp. 379-388, August 2007

10 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2010

See all articles by Min Zhao

Min Zhao

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Steve Hoeffler

Vanderbilt University - Marketing

Gal Zauberman

Yale

Date Written: August 30, 2007

Abstract

Research on choice over time has found that people tend to focus on concrete aspects of near-future events and abstract aspects of distantfuture events. Furthermore, a focus on concrete aspects heightens the feasibility-related components, whereas a focus on abstract aspects heightens the desirability-related components, which can lead to preference inconsistency over time. In this research, the authors integrate research on choice over time with mental simulation. They propose and show that counter to people’s natural tendencies, outcome simulation for near-future events and process simulation for distant-future events lead to preference consistency over time. The results also suggest that outcome timing moderates the effectiveness of process versus outcome simulation.

Keywords: preference over time, mental simulation, construal level, time

Suggested Citation

Zhao, Min and Hoeffler, Steve and Zauberman, Gal, Mental Simulation and Preference Consistency Over Time: The Role of Process-Versus Outcome-Focused Thoughts (August 30, 2007). Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XLIV, pp. 379-388, August 2007 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1668197

Min Zhao (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

Steve Hoeffler

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Gal Zauberman

Yale ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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