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The effect of superstitious beliefs on performance expectations

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We explore superstitious beliefs as a basis of product performance expectations and their impact on initial purchase likelihood and subsequent satisfaction. In doing so, we demonstrate instances when superstition-driven expectations cause consumers to make purchase decisions that run counter to economic rationality. In the first set of studies we find that Taiwanese consumers are relatively more likely to purchase a product with positive superstitious associations based on its “lucky” color, and are more likely to purchase and are willing to pay more money for a product with a smaller but “lucky” number of units contained in the package (e.g., eight tennis balls compared to ten). In contrast, consumers who do not hold such superstitious beliefs adhere to the more rational choice paradigm. Next, we show that the differences in purchase likelihood are driven by superstition-based performance expectations. We further generalize these findings to product satisfaction, and find support for expectation disconfirmation sensitivity as a moderator of the effect.

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Correspondence to Thomas Kramer.

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Lauren Block and Thomas Kramer contributed equally and are listed in alphabetical order. The manuscript benefited greatly from the insightful comments and suggestions received from the editor and four reviewers.

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Block, L., Kramer, T. The effect of superstitious beliefs on performance expectations. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 37, 161–169 (2009).

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