Conditioned Superstition: Desire for Control and Consumer Brand Preferences

56 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2013  

Eric J. Hamerman

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business

Gita Johar

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Date Written: March 20, 2013

Abstract

There are many opportunities in everyday life to associate consumer products with success or failure. For example, when a basketball fan drinks a particular brand of soda while watching her favorite team win a game, she may perceive that this consumption facilitated the victory. Subsequently, the fan may continue to purchase and consume this same item during future games, in an attempt to help the team. This behavior is labeled as “conditioned superstition.” Data from five experiments indicates that preference for lucky products (i.e., those associated with positive outcomes) increases with higher levels of desire for control combined with lower levels of perceived ability to control outcomes (e.g., low generalized self-efficacy). People who express a preference for these lucky products form an illusion of control over future outcomes, so that they perceive superstitious behavior to be an effective strategy to achieve the desired result.

Suggested Citation

Hamerman, Eric J. and Johar, Gita, Conditioned Superstition: Desire for Control and Consumer Brand Preferences (March 20, 2013). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming; Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 13-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2236360

Eric J. Hamerman

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business ( email )

7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Gita Johar (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

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