Conventional wisdom and prior research on processing fluency suggest that consumers prefer fluent information, such that it has positive effects on their purchase decisions. Challenging this conventional wisdom, and on the basis of recent research on processing disfluency, this study proposes that the increased effort required to process disfluent price information can lead to deeper information processing. If the advertised price offer represents a good value, it can enhance purchase decisions, even if customers prefer the disfluent display less. A series of studies in the field and lab demonstrate support for this positive impact of disfluent price information on purchase decisions.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Four participants from the original sample of 51 were not included due to technical issues with completing the survey (2) or they indicated they had participated in one of the other research studies (2). Not including them did not change the pattern of results.
Alter, A. L., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2008). Effects of fluency on psychological distance and mental construal (or why New York is a large city, but New York is a civilized jungle). Psychological Science, 19(2), 161–167.
Alter, A. L., Oppenheimer, D. M., Epley, N., & Eyre, R. N. (2007). Overcoming intuition: metacognitive difficulty activates analytic reasoning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136(4), 569–576.
Biswas, A., Bhowmick, S., Guha, A., & Grewal, D. (2013). Consumer evaluations of sale prices: role of the subtraction principle. Journal of Marketing, 77, 49–66.
Blattberg, R. C., Briesch, R. & Neslin, S. A. (1995). How promotions work. Marketing Science, 14(3), Part 2, G122-G132.
Bornstein, R. F., & D’Agostino, P. R. (1992). Stimulus recognition and the mere exposure effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(4), 545–552.
Bornstein, R. F., Leone, D. R., & Galley, D. J. (1987). The generalizability of subliminal mere exposure effects: influence of stimuli perceived without awareness on social behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(6), 1070–1079.
Burkhard, D. (2010). Helvetica–World’s most popular font. Newly Swissed. http://www.newlyswissed.com. Accessed 27 Jun.
Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., & Kao, C. F. (1984). The efficient assessment of need for cognition. Journal of Personality Assessment, 48(3), 306–307.
Chaiken, S., Liberman, A., & Eagly, A. H. (1989). Heuristic and systematic information processing within and beyond the persuasion context. In J. S. Uleman & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), Unintended thought (pp. 212–252). New York: Guilford Press.
Corley, M., MacGregor, L. J., & Donaldson, D. I. (2007). It’s the way that you, er, say it: hesitations in speech affect language comprehension. Cognition, 105(3), 658–668.
Coulter, K. S., & Coulter, R. A. (2005). Size does matter: the effects of magnitude representation congruency on price perceptions and purchase likelihood. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15(1), 64–76.
Coulter, K. S., & Roggeveen, A. (2012). Deal or no deal? How number of buyers, purchase limit, and time-to-expiration impact purchase decisions on group buying websites. Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, 6(2), 78–95.
Della Bitta, A. J., Monroe, K. B., & McGinnis, J. M. (1981). Consumer perceptions of comparative price advertisements. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(November), 416–427.
Diemand-Yauman, C., Oppenheimer, D. M., & Vaughan, E. B. (2011). Fortune favors the bold (and the italicized): effects of disfluency on educational outcomes. Cognition, 118(1), 111–115.
Dodds, W. B., Monroe, K. B., & Grewal, D. (1991). The effects of price, brand and store information on buyers’ product evaluations. Journal of Marketing Research, 28(August), 307–319.
Ellis, A. W., Holmes, S. J., & Wright, R. L. (2010). Age of acquisition and the recognition of brand names: on the importance of being early. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 20(1), 43–52.
Estelami, H., Grewal, D., & Roggeveen, A. L. (2007). The negative effect of policy restrictions on consumers’ post-purchase reactions to price-matching guarantees. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 35(2), 208–219.
Förster, J., & Higgins, E. T. (2005). How global versus local perception fits regulatory focus. Psychological Science, 16(8), 631–636.
Glass, B. D., Maddox, W. T., & Markman, A. B. (2011). Regulatory fit effects on stimulus identification. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 73(3), 927–937.
Grewal, D., Monroe, K. B., & Krishnan, R. (1998). The effects of price comparison advertising on buyers’ perceptions of acquisition value, transaction value and behavioral intentions. Journal of Marketing, 62(April), 46–60.
Gupta, S., & Cooper, L. G. (1992). Discounting of discounts and promotions thresholds. Journal of Consumer Research, 19(December), 401–411.
Hagtvedt, H. (2011). The impact of incomplete typeface logos on perceptions of the firm. Journal of Marketing, 75(4), 86–93.
Hawkins, S. A., & Hoch, S. J. (1992). Low-involvement learning: memory without evaluation. Journal of Consumer Research, 19(2), 212–225.
Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52(12), 1280–1300.
Higgins, E. T., Camacho, C. J., Idson, L. C., Spiegel, S., & Scholer, A. A. (2008). How making the same decision in a “proper way” creates value. Social Cognition, 26(5), 496–514.
Inman, J. J., McAlister, L., & Hoyer, W. D. (1990). Promotion signal: proxy for a price cut? Journal of Consumer Research, 17(1), 74–81.
Janiszewski, C., & Meyvis, T. (2001). Effects of brand logo complexity, repetition, and spacing on processing fluency and judgment. Journal of Consumer Research, 28(1), 18–32.
Kukar-Kinney, M., & Grewal, D. (2007). Comparison of consumer reactions to price-matching guarantees in internet and bricks-and-mortar retail environments. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 35(2), 197–207.
Labroo, A. A., & Lee, A. Y. (2006). Between two brands: a goal fluency account of brand evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research, 43(3), 374–385.
Labroo, A. A., Dhar, R., & Schwarz, N. (2008). Of frog wines and frowning watches: semantic priming, perceptual fluency, and brand evaluation. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(6), 819–831.
Larsen, C. (Coordinator). (2008). 50 years of Helvetica [Exhibit]. New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Lee, A. Y., & Labroo, A. A. (2004). The effect of conceptual and perceptual fluency on brand evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research, 41(2), 151–165.
Lin, H. F., & Shen, F. (2012). Regulatory focus and attribute framing: evidence of compatibility effects in advertising. International Journal of Advertising, 31(1), 169–188.
Martin, B. A., Lang, B., Wong, S., & Martin, B. A. (2003). Conclusion explicitness in advertising: the moderating role of need for cognition (NFC) and argument quality (AQ) on persuasion. Journal of Advertising, 32(4), 57–66.
Martin, B. A., Sherrard, M. J., & Wentzel, D. (2005). The role of sensation seeking and need for cognition on Web‐site evaluations: a resource‐matching perspective. Psychology & Marketing, 22(2), 109–126.
Motyka, S., Grewal, D., Puccinelli, N. M., Roggeveen, A. L., Avnet, T., Daryanto, A., de Ruyter, K., & Wetzels, M. (2014). Regulatory fit: a meta-analytic synthesis. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(3), 394–410.
Novemsky, N., Dhar, R., Schwarz, N., & Simonson, I. (2007). Preference fluency in consumer choice. Journal of Marketing Research, 44(3), 347–356.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer.
Reber, R., & Schwarz, N. (1999). Effects of perceptual fluency on judgments of truth. Consciousness and Cognition, 8(3), 338–342.
Reimann, M., Castaño, R., Zaichkowsky, J., & Bechara, A. (2012). Novel versus familiar brands: an analysis of neurophysiology, response latency, and choice. Marketing Letters, 23(3), 745–759.
Schwarz, N. (2004). Meta-cognitive experiences in consumer judgment and decision making. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(4), 332–348.
Seamon, J. G., Marsh, R. L., & Brody, N. (1984). Critical importance of exposure duration for affective discrimination of stimuli that are not recognized. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 10(3), 465–469.
Shen, H., Jiang, Y., & Adaval, R. (2010). Contrast and assimilation effects of processing fluency. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(5), 876–889.
Som, A., & Lee, Y. H. (2012). The joint effects of choice assortment and regulatory focus on choice behavior. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 29(2), 202–209.
Song, H., & Schwarz, N. (2008). If it’s hard to read, it’s hard to do: processing fluency affects effort prediction and motivation. Psychological Science, 19(10), 986–988.
Spiller, S. A., Fitzsimons, G. J., Lynch, J. G., Jr., & McClelland, G. H. (2013). Spotlights, floodlights, and the magic number zero: simple effects tests in moderated regression. Journal of Marketing Research, 50(2), 277–288.
Spotts, H. (1994). Evidence of a relationship between need for cognition and chronological age: Implications for persuasion in consumer research. In C. T. Allen & J. D. Roedder (Eds.), Advances in consumer research (Vol. 21, pp. 238–243). Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research.
Suri, R., & Monroe, K. B. (2001). The effects of need for cognition and trait anxiety on price acceptability. Psychology & Marketing, 18(1), 21–42.
Suri, R., Kohli, C. S., & Monroe, K. B. (2007). The effects of perceived scarcity on the evaluation of prices. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 35(1), 89–100.
Suri, R., Monroe, K. B., & Koc, U. (2013). Math anxiety and its effects on consumers’ preference for price promotion formats. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(2), 271–282.
Tsai, C. I., & McGill, A. L. (2011). No pain, no gain? How fluency and construal level affect consumer confidence. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(5), 807–821.
Whittlesea, B. W. (1993). Illusions of familiarity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19(6), 1235–1253.
Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1–27.
Zajonc, R. B. (1980). Feeling and thinking: preferences need no inferences. American Psychologist, 35(2), 151–175.
Study 2 advertisement (disfluent choices)
Study 4 advertisement (disfluent font)
About this article
Cite this article
Motyka, S., Suri, R., Grewal, D. et al. Disfluent vs. fluent price offers: paradoxical role of processing disfluency. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 44, 627–638 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-015-0459-0
- Price perception
- Decision making