Not in My Backyard: The Influence of Arbitrary Boundaries on Consumer Choice

35 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2010  

Jeff Galak

Carnegie Mellon University

Justin Kruger

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; New York University (NYU); New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Paul Rozin

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychiatry

Date Written: November 26, 2007

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Galak, Jeff and Kruger, Justin and Rozin, Paul, Not in My Backyard: The Influence of Arbitrary Boundaries on Consumer Choice (November 26, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1698345 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1698345

Jeff Galak (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-5810 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jeffgalak.com

Justin Kruger

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States

Paul Rozin

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychiatry ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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