Besting the Status Quo: The Effect of Abstract Versus Concrete Mindsets on Emotional Trade-Off Difficulty and Avoidant Coping Behavior
Forthcoming in Marketing Letters, doi/10.1007/s11002-018-9463-8
Posted: 21 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 6, 2018
Building on past emotional trade-off difficulty and construal level research, we investigate the conditions under which consumers engage in avoidant coping behavior to reduce negative emotions that arise from trading off valued attributes (e.g., quality and price). Results from three studies offer evidence that an abstract (vs. concrete) mindset systematically decreases avoidant coping behavior (e.g., the selection of a status quo option) by reducing the intensity of the negative emotion consumers experience. This effect replicates across construal level manipulations and product categories. Thus, in addition to the harmful effects of negative emotions and coping behavior on consumer choice identified in past research, we find that an abstract (vs. concrete) mindset can help consumers make better (i.e., more normative) choices. Together, these findings have implications for marketers of new or unfamiliar products as well as products that are not incumbents or category leaders (i.e., status quo options) when consumers face difficult trade-offs.
Keywords: Trade-off difficulty, Negative emotions, Coping behavior, Decision avoidance, Construal level, Abstract vs. concrete mindset
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