Same or Different? How Distance and Variation Affect Similarity Judgments
Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 2H3, pp. 209-227, March 2004
Posted: 28 Mar 2007
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 attributebut 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
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