Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: How and When Hypothetical Questions Influence Behavior

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 117, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 168–178

University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-797

Posted: 29 Mar 2019

See all articles by Sarah Moore

Sarah Moore

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law

David Neal

University of Southern California - Department of Psychology

Gavan J. Fitzsimons

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Baba Shiv

Stanford University - Stanford Graduate School of Business

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

How and when does responding to hypothetical questions shape future judgment and behavior? We identify knowledge accessibility as an implicit process through which hypothetical questions influence individuals, and examine moderators of accessibility that determine when these effects obtain. In an initial study, we show that hypothetical questions increase the accessibility of the specific positive or negative knowledge referenced by the question. In five subsequent studies, we manipulate factors known to enhance (consistency, elaboration) and attenuate (awareness, delay) accessibility, and show that these factors moderate the influence of hypothetical questions on individuals’ voting choices, legal decision-making, and consumption behavior.

Keywords: Hypothetical questions; Accessibility; Question-behavior effect

Suggested Citation

Moore, Sarah and Neal, David and Fitzsimons, Gavan J. and Shiv, Baba, Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: How and When Hypothetical Questions Influence Behavior (2011). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 117, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 168–178; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-797. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2280705

Sarah Moore (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

David Neal

University of Southern California - Department of Psychology ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061
United States

Gavan J. Fitzsimons

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

Baba Shiv

Stanford University - Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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