Detecting and Reacting to Change: The Effect of Exposure to Narrow Categorizations

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, Forthcoming

28 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2011

See all articles by Amitav Chakravarti

Amitav Chakravarti

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Christina Fang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Zur Shapira

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Date Written: April 8, 2011

Abstract

The ability to detect a change, to accurately assess the magnitude of the change, and to react to that change in a commensurate fashion, is of critical importance in many decision domains. Thus, it is important to understand the factors that systematically affect people’s reactions to change. In this paper we document a novel effect: decision makers’ reactions to a change (e.g., a visual change, or a technology change), are systematically affected by the type of categorizations they encounter in an unrelated prior task (e.g., the response categories associated with a survey question). We find that prior exposure to narrow, as opposed to broad categorizations, improves decision makers’ ability to detect change and leads to stronger reactions to a given change. These differential reactions occur because the prior categorizations, even though unrelated, alter the extent to which the subsequently presented change is perceived as either a relatively large change or a relatively small one.

Suggested Citation

Chakravarti, Amitav and Fang, Christina and Shapira, Zur, Detecting and Reacting to Change: The Effect of Exposure to Narrow Categorizations (April 8, 2011). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1805811

Amitav Chakravarti (Contact Author)

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

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

Christina Fang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Zur Shapira

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

40 West Fourth Street, 7-06
New York, NY 10012
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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