Prior Knowledge and Complacency in New Product Learning

40 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2002

See all articles by Stacy Wood

Stacy Wood

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business

John G. Lynch

University of Colorado-Boulder, Leeds School of Business - Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making

Abstract

Our research examines the role of prior knowledge in learning about really new products that make existing product knowledge obsolete. Those with higher prior knowledge incorrectly generalize from their knowledge of existing products in the same product market and assume that they already know most of what is necessary to use the new product properly. Three studies demonstrate that, compared to consumers with lower prior knowledge, those with higher prior knowledge learn less about a new product. Further, higher knowledge consumers are able to learn better but learn less due to motivational deficits. Study 1 shows that, when given a cue that the new product is truly different, those with higher prior knowledge learned more than those with lower prior knowledge. In Study 2, we demonstrate that inferior learning of new product information by those with higher prior knowledge is caused by inattention at encoding rather than to reconstructive errors at retrieval. When incentives for learning were provided after encoding but prior to retrieval, those with higher prior knowledge learned less than those with lower prior knowledge. The reverse was true when incentives were provided prior to encoding. We show that these results hold both when prior knowledge is manipulated experimentally (Studies 1 and 2) and when it is an individual difference factor (Study 3).

Suggested Citation

Wood, Stacy and Lynch, John G., Prior Knowledge and Complacency in New Product Learning. Forthcoming in Journal of Consumer Research. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=339383 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.339383

Stacy Wood (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina - Darla Moore School of Business ( email )

1705 College St
Francis M. Hipp Building
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

John G. Lynch

University of Colorado-Boulder, Leeds School of Business - Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making ( email )

Leeds School of Business
Boulder, CO 80309-0419
United States
919-971-5201 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.colorado.edu/business/john-g-lynch-jr

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