Extremeness Seeking: When and Why Consumers Prefer the Extremes

40 Pages Posted: 20 May 2007

See all articles by John T. Gourville

John T. Gourville

Harvard Business School

Dilip Soman

University of Toronto - Department of Marketing

Date Written: May 2007

Abstract

Decision researchers have long been interested in behaviors that deviate from rational choice. Of these, the compromise effect has received considerable attention, with it repeatedly shown that the probability of choosing an item increases when that item is a middling, as opposed to extreme, alternative in a choice set. The term extremeness avoidance has been used to describe the reason underlying this phenomenon. In this research, we argue that extremeness avoidance behavior depends on assortment type, with consumers displaying extremeness avoidance for alignable assortments, but systematically and predictably displaying extremeness seeking for non-alignable assortments. Across three studies, we show the extremeness seeking effect, contrast it with extremeness avoidance, and explore its underlying cause.

Suggested Citation

Gourville, John T. and Soman, Dilip, Extremeness Seeking: When and Why Consumers Prefer the Extremes (May 2007). HBS Marketing Research Paper No. 07-092. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=987336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.987336

John T. Gourville (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6133 (Phone)
617-496-5637 (Fax)

Dilip Soman

University of Toronto - Department of Marketing ( email )

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