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If it has lots of bells and whistles, it must be the best: how maximizers and satisficers evaluate feature-rich versus feature-poor products

Abstract

Past studies have largely focused on how maximizers versus satisficers choose among multiple products within a given consideration set. By contrast, our research focuses on how and why maximizers evaluate an individual product based on a salient characteristic—the number of features that it has. Across two studies, we find that maximizers evaluate products more favorably than satisficers when they have many features (i.e., they are “feature-rich”), but not when they have few features (i.e., they are “feature-poor”). Further, we outline the process underlying this effect: Maximizers are more likely than satisficers to perceive feature-rich (vs. feature-poor) products as a means of signaling status to others. We additionally identify a boundary condition supporting this proposed theoretical process. Specifically, we demonstrate that when maximizers no longer perceive feature-rich products as status signals, they do not evaluate them more favorably than satisficers.

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Notes

  1. Data for studies 1 and 2 is located on Harvard Dataverse Repository (Brannon 2017).

  2. We pre-tested the effect of the article on general participant perceptions that feature-rich products signal status (to what extent do you believe that products with many features are associated with status, owning products with many features can signal status to others, owning products with many features means that you have greater social status than others?) (α = 0.89) by randomly assigning 100 mTurk participants to a 2 (article) × (maximizer) design. We found a marginally significant two-way interaction (b = 0.48, t = 1.87, p = 0.06). Most importantly, the simple slope of the maximizer variable when participants did not read the article was significant and positive (b = 0.46, t = 2.65, p = 0.01), such that maximizers (vs. satisficers) perceived feature-rich products as status signals. In contrast, when participants read the article, we found no difference in perceptions between maximizers and satisficers (b = − 0.02, t = − 0.12, p = 0.90). These results indicate that reading the article eliminated differences in how maximizers and satisficers perceived the status-signaling properties of feature-rich products.

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Correspondence to Daniel C. Brannon.

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Brannon, D.C., Soltwisch, B.W. If it has lots of bells and whistles, it must be the best: how maximizers and satisficers evaluate feature-rich versus feature-poor products. Mark Lett 28, 651–662 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-017-9440-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-017-9440-7

Keywords

  • Maximizers
  • Satisficers
  • Signaling
  • Features
  • Status
  • Decision making