Explaining Context Effects through the Perspective of Preference Uncertainty


Context effects indicate that when evaluating a set of choices, consumers consider the alternatives not only in isolation, but also in relation to other possible options (Highhouse 1996; Herne 1999). To capture the behavior of consumer choice by considering context effects, many theoretical models have been proposed, such as elimination by aspects (EBA) (Tversky, 1972a, 1972b; Tversky and Sattath, 1979), componential context model (Tversky and Simonson, 1993) and decision field theory (Roe et al., 2001; Busemeyer and Townsend, 1993). It should be noted that a behavioral model is very useful for marketers to realize, predict, and explain consumer choice behavior in proposing competitive strategies for positioning, targeting, and branding.
Although Busemeyer et al. (2006) suggested that all context effects provide benchmarks that any model of decision making must strive to explain, so far no behavioral model is proposed to account for all context effects. However, an interesting problem thus arises as to whether we should propose a "perfect model" which accounts for context effects as much as possible or understand when and how to use these existing behavioral models.
Therefore, the purposes of this paper are twofold: first, we examine the relationship between context effects and the preference uncertainty of a consumer to explain the salient condition of a specific context effect. This is because some context effects, such as the compromise effect and the attraction effect, have been reported to be salient when the preference of a consumer is uncertain (Simonson 1989; Kahneman et al. 1991; Tversky and Kahneman 1991). However, no empirical study has been proposed to support the above statement. In addition, we still do not know if all context effects are related to the preference of a consumer. Secondly, we can propose further direction of a behavioral model which accounts for context effects.

Author Information
Jih-Jeng Huang, Soochow University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2013
Stream: Psychology

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