The effect of a no-pain, no-gain lay theory on product efficacy perceptions

Abstract

We document the existence of an inference strategy based on a no-pain, no-gain lay theory, showing that consumers infer pharmaceutical products to be more efficacious when they are associated with a detrimental side effect or attribute. Study 1 finds that consumers high in need for cognition infer a bad-tasting cough syrup to be more effective than a good-tasting one. However, taste does not impact efficacy beliefs of consumers low in need for cognition. A second study conceptually replicates these results, showing that consumers who take allergy medications (i.e., those high in issue involvement) infer an allergy medication with common side effects to be more effective than one with rare side effects. Our final study builds on these findings by demonstrating that consumers high in need for cognition believe a pain killer with common side effects to be more effective than one with rare side effects. Demonstrating a boundary condition of this inference strategy, the effect is observed only when the pain killer has been on the market for a relatively long period of time.

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Correspondence to Thomas Kramer.

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This manuscript benefited greatly from the insightful comments and suggestions received from the editor and two reviewers.

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Kramer, T., Irmak, C., Block, L.G. et al. The effect of a no-pain, no-gain lay theory on product efficacy perceptions. Mark Lett 23, 517–529 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-012-9165-6

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Keywords

  • Inferences
  • Lay theory
  • No-pain, no-gain
  • Medicinal efficacy