Connecting the dots: how personal need for structure produces false consumer pattern perceptions

Abstract

The human tendency to recognize patterns even when none exist is shown to have applications in consumer behavior. The current research demonstrates that as one’s personal need for structure (PNS) increases (i.e., requiring predictability and disfavoring uncertainty), false consumer pattern perceptions emerge. Construal level moderates this relationship such that as abstract mindsets (high construal) seek out underlying explanations and enhance, concrete mindsets (low construal) evaluate consumer-related stimuli in terms of its contextual elements and therefore attenuate the effect. Types of consumer patterns are characterized by false expectations about the performance of a cellular phone (study 1), the association of human characteristics toward personal computers (study 2), and the development of beliefs in corporate conspiracy theories (study 3). This research has implications for practitioners and academics as it expands on the literature related to false pattern perceptions by investigating it through the lens of consumer decision-making.

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Correspondence to Alexander Davidson or Michel Laroche.

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Davidson, A., Laroche, M. Connecting the dots: how personal need for structure produces false consumer pattern perceptions. Mark Lett 27, 337–350 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-014-9332-z

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Keywords

  • False pattern perceptions
  • Personal need for structure
  • Construal level
  • Product anthropomorphism
  • Corporate conspiracy theory