The effects of analyzing reasons for brand preferences: Disruption or reinforcement?
Different streams of research offer seemingly conflicting predictions as to the effects of analyzing reasons for preferences on the attitude-behavior link. The authors apply these different theoretical accounts to a new product scenario and identify conditions under which analyzing reasons for brand preferences can increase or decrease the predictive value of reported preferences. Consistent with dual-process theories of persuasion, in Study 1 the authors find that reasons analysis increases the link between attitude and behavior when the measure of behavior closely follows attitude measurement. In contrast, and consistent with research by Wilson and colleagues (e.g., Wilson et al. 1989) on the disruptive effects of reasons analysis, the authors find that thinking about reasons significantly decreases the attitude - behavior correlation when the observed behavior occurs after a substantial delay. Study 2 not only replicates this finding but also suggests that the timing of the reasons task can be an important moderator of the disruption effect. Specifically, the authors draw on the literature on accountability effects to show that even when there is a delay between attitude and behavior measurement, reasons analysis leads to an increase in the attitude - behavior link, as long as reasons are analyzed after attitude measurement. Finally, in Study 3, the authors validate the account of the effects of reasons analysis by obtaining parallel findings for attitude persistence. Together, the studies offer preliminary advice to both practitioners and academics regarding the potential effects of asking consumers to think about why they like or dislike certain products.
Sengupta, J; Fitzsimons, GJ
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