Not in My Backyard: The Influence of Arbitrary Boundaries on Consumer Choice
35 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2010
Date Written: November 26, 2007
The present research demonstrates that symbolic boundaries such as political borders act as psychological buffers. Across six experiments (N = 583) we demonstrate that consumers prefer to avoid crossing a town border to reach a store (experiments 1 and 2), even when no visual cues are provided (experiment 3). Furthermore, consumers feel safer when protected by a political border (experiment 4), even when that border clearly confers no real protection (experiments 5). Finally, we demonstrate that the psychological distance provided by borders also acts to isolate consumers from favorable objects (experiment 6). We rule out alternative explanations for this effect including visual illusions, perceptions of distance, halo effects, and categorization effects.
Keywords: boundaries, borders, decision making, contagion
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