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The Countability Effect: Comparative versus Experiential Reactions to Reward Distributions

Jingjing Ma and Neal J. Roese
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 6 (April 2013), pp. 1219-1233
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/668087
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668087
Page Count: 15
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The Countability Effect: Comparative versus Experiential Reactions to Reward Distributions
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Abstract

The effect of inequity on satisfaction—people who are underbenefited are less satisfied than those who are overbenefited—is robust across many domains. However, various factors may moderate this effect, and a key perspective centers on value sensitivity. The present research demonstrates that countability (how easily a product or service can be counted using simple whole numbers) feeds into value sensitivity and thus moderates the impact of inequity on satisfaction. Across nine experiments, we show that when rewards are less easily counted, the effect of inequity on satisfaction is diminished. Further, this effect is rooted to a mechanism in which less countable rewards shift cognitive focus from value comparison to consumption experience. This research contributes to literature on value sensitivity, comparative thinking, numerical information processing, fairness, and happiness.

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