Same or Different? How Distance and Variation Affect Similarity Judgments

Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 2H3, pp. 209-227, March 2004

Posted: 28 Mar 2007

See all articles by Deborah J. MacInnis

Deborah J. MacInnis

University of Southern California - Marketing Department

Abstract

The effects of distance and variation on product-category similarity judgments are examined in two studies. Distance hetween product categories is characterized as the mean difference in the average scores of all brands in one category with all brands in another on a comparison attribute. Variation is characterized as a degree of spread of brands along that comparison attribute. Study 1 finds that both distance and variation influence the perceived similarity of two product categories. An interaction between distance and variation is also observed. Study 2 is designed to replicate and extend these results, determining if distance and variation also affect similarity judgments when brands in the two product categories are not described by the same attribute¬óbut instead where a comparison attribute must be abstracted. The results confirm the main effects of distance and variation. However, the interaction effects between distance and variation disappear, suggesting that subjects lose some information about distribution knowledge in the abstraction process. Both studies support consumers' use of distribution knowledge about brands (distance and variation) in productcategory similarly judgment tasks.

Keywords: product, distance, variation

Suggested Citation

MacInnis, Deborah J., Same or Different? How Distance and Variation Affect Similarity Judgments. Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 2H3, pp. 209-227, March 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=975555

Deborah J. MacInnis (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marketing Department ( email )

Hoffman Hall 701
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1427
United States

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