Choosing Here and Now vs. There and Later: The Moderating Role of Psychological Distance on Assortment Size Preferences

19 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2012 Last revised: 6 Jul 2012

See all articles by Joseph K. Goodman

Joseph K. Goodman

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

Selin A. Malkoc

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

Date Written: March 2, 2012

Abstract

Consumers prefer larger assortments, despite the negative consequences associated with choosing from these sets. This article examines the role of psychological distance (temporal and geographical) in consumers’ assortment size decisions and rectifies contradicting hypotheses produced by construal level theory. Six studies demonstrate that while consumers prefer larger assortments when the choice takes place in the here and now, they are more likely to prefer small assortments when choices pertain to distant locations and times. This decrease in preference for large assortments is due to psychological distance increasing the similarity of the options in a category, making them appear more substitutable. This effect of psychological distance reverses when consumers consider desirability/feasibility tradeoff information inherent in the assortment size decision. These findings point to important outcomes of psychological distance, resolving opposing predictions of construal level theory, and identify boundary conditions for the well-established notion that consumers are attracted to large assortments.

Keywords: Variety, Assortment, Psychological Distance, Construal Level Theory

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Joseph K. and Malkoc, Selin A., Choosing Here and Now vs. There and Later: The Moderating Role of Psychological Distance on Assortment Size Preferences (March 2, 2012). Journal of Consumer Research, December 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2015012

Joseph K. Goodman (Contact Author)

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University ( email )

Fisher Hall 542
2100 Neil Ave
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

HOME PAGE: http://u.osu.edu/goodman/

Selin A. Malkoc

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University ( email )

2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1144
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://fisher.osu.edu/people/malkocgoodman.1

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