Marketing Research

Kevin Lewis

June 09, 2024

An Aversion to Intervention: How the Protestant Work Ethic Influences Preferences for Natural Healthcare
Yimin Cheng & Anirban Mukhopadhyay
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming 


The term “natural” is ubiquitous in advertising and branding, but limited research has investigated how consumers respond and relate to naturalness. Some researchers have documented preferences for natural products, specifically food, but there has been scant investigation of the psychological antecedents of such preferences, especially in the critical, multi-trillion dollar domain of healthcare. Using publicly available country-level data from 41 countries and individual-level experimental and survey data from the lab and online panels, we find converging evidence that consumers do indeed differ in their preferences for relatively natural versus artificial healthcare options. These differences are influenced by the extent to which they subscribe to the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) -- a belief system that influences judgments and behaviors across diverse domains -- such that people who subscribe strongly (vs. weakly) to the PWE are more likely to prefer natural healthcare options, because they are more averse to external intervention in general. Further, belief in the PWE makes consumers more sensitive to the intrusiveness of an intervention than to its extent. Theoretical and substantive implications are discussed.

Moderating (mis)information
Jacob Meyer, Prithvijit Mukherjee & Lucas Rentschler
Public Choice, April 2024, Pages 159-186 


This paper uses a laboratory experiment to investigate the efficacy of different content moderation policies designed to combat misinformation on social media. These policies vary the way posts are monitored and the consequence imposed when misinformation is detected. We consider three monitoring protocols: (1) individuals can fact check information shared by other group members for a cost; (2) the social media platform randomly fact checks each post with a fixed probability; (3) the combination of individual and platform fact checking. We consider two consequences: (1) fact-checked posts are flagged, such that the results of the fact check are available to all who view the post; (2) fact-checked posts are flagged, and subjects found to have posted misinformation are automatically fact checked for two subsequent rounds, which we call persistent scrutiny. We compare our data to that of Pascarella et al. (Social media, (mis)information, and voting decisions. Working paper, 2022), which studies an identical environment without content moderation. We find that allowing individuals to fact check improves group decision making and welfare. Platform checking alone does not improve group decisions relative to the baseline with no moderation. It can improve welfare, but only in the case of persistent scrutiny. There are marginal improvements when the two protocols are combined. We also find that flagging is sufficient to curb the negative effects of misinformation. Adding persistent scrutiny does not improve the quality of decision-making; it leads to less engagement on the social media platform as fewer group members share posts.

The rule of tome? Longer novels are more likely to win literary awards
Féidhlim McGowan
Journal of Cultural Economics, June 2024, Pages 311–329 


Longer novels on shortlists are significantly more likely to win literary awards. This relationship is shown using all shortlisted novels for three prestigious prizes -- the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the National Book Award for Fiction, over the time period 1963–2021. The result is robust to controlling for author gender and Goodreads rating, and to whether one uses absolute length (in pages) or relative length on the shortlist. The size of the effect suggests other valid cues are underweighted in the process of selecting a winner. Judgment and decision-making research suggests several causes of the apparent bias. One is the representativeness heuristic: longer novels resemble the tomes that constitute the foundations of the Western canon, and this similarity may subconsciously sway judges. Other explanations include an effort heuristic and the effects of accountability on decisions. These results may explain previous findings that Booker Prize winners are not higher quality than shortlisted novels. The findings cast doubt on the validity of awards as signals of literary merit and have broader implications for the inferred quality of expert judgment.

The Pitfalls of Review Solicitation: Evidence from a Natural Experiment on TripAdvisor
Baojun Gao et al.
Management Science, forthcoming 


This study examines the effect of firms’ participation in platform-endorsed review solicitation programs on consumers’ online review generation. We leverage a natural experiment on TripAdvisor, which launched a review solicitation program that allows hotels to collect reviews directly from guests after their stays with the aid of certified connectivity partners. Applying a two-stage difference-in-differences approach to a panel data set of online reviews for a matched set of hotels across TripAdvisor and Expedia, we find that hotels’ participation in the review solicitation program results in a 34.3% increase in review volume, a 0.151 increase in review rating, but a 16.9% decrease in review length. Review solicitation, however, generates a notable negative spillover effect on the volume of organic reviews. Specifically, the volume of organic reviews is reduced by 15.5% after hotels start soliciting reviews. We provide evidence that the motivational crowding-out effect plays an important role in driving this negative spillover. Further analyses reveal that the effects of review solicitation are heterogeneous with respect to hotels of different types and consumers with different demographic and behavioral characteristics. Finally, using a novel structural topic model, we detect a significant shift in review content from specific and concrete topics to general and abstract topics. Our findings suggest that review platforms and firms should be cautious about the unintended negative consequences of review solicitation on consumers’ review generation.

Are "10-Grams of Protein" Better than "Ten Grams of Protein"? How Digits versus Number Words Influence Consumer Judgments
Marisabel Romero et al.
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming 


Numerical information can be communicated using different number formats, such as digits (“5”) or number words (“five”). For example, a battery product may claim to last for “5 hours” or “five hours.” And while these two formats are used interchangeably in the marketplace, it is not clear how they influence consumer judgments and behavior. Via six experimental studies, two online ad campaigns, and one large secondary dataset analysis, we find that digits, compared to number words, positively affect consumer behavior. We refer to this phenomenon as the number format effect. We further show that the number format effect occurs because consumers feel that digits (vs. number words) are the right way to present numerical information: digits lead to a sense of feeling right that then affects consumer behavior. Finally, we show that the number format effect is amplified when credibility of the source of information is low, and attenuated when source credibility is high. The current research advances knowledge of how numerical information influences consumer judgments and behavior and carries important implications for marketers and policymakers as they communicate numerical information to consumers.

Why the Impressionists did not create Impressionism
Liesbeth De Strooper & Erwin Dekker
Journal of Cultural Economics, June 2024, Pages 171–198 


The Impressionist painters are often believed to have formed the first coherent avant-garde group to break with the establishment both stylistically and institutionally. Recent scholarship has, however, emphasized that they were not interested in collective recognition. We empirically analyze exhibition patterns and contemporary reception of the eight alternative exhibitions traditionally associated with Impressionism to demonstrate that there was no consistent group of artists who contributed to these exhibitions, and that the exhibitions were not predominantly understood as Impressionist exhibitions in contemporary reviews. To the extent that the painters were perceived as a collective there existed various competing labels of which Impressionists, Independents and Intransigents were the most important ones. We then provide a theoretical interpretation to suggest why the alternative exhibitions were organized: they contested the monopoly of the Paris Academy and the associated official Salon and provided more, and different opportunities to exhibit. But the development of a collective identity and market category of Impressionism would have required overlap of interests and collective action. This did not take place because few artists were willing to promote a collective identity at the expense of their individual reputation, and sub-groups among the artists pursued different goals through the alternative exhibitions. Finally, we consider some third-party actors who had an incentive to promote Impressionism as a market category. We demonstrate that they had limited success and provide some preliminary evidence that the collective identity of Impressionism was only firmly established decades after the exhibitions were organized.


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