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Journal Article

Conditioned Superstition: Desire for Control and Consumer Brand Preferences

Eric J. Hamerman and Gita V. Johar
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 3 (October 2013), pp. 428-443
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/670762
Stable URL:
Page Count: 16
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Conditioned Superstition: Desire for Control and Consumer Brand Preferences
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There are many opportunities in everyday life to associate consumer products with success or failure. For example, when a basketball fan drinks a particular brand of soda while watching her favorite team win a game, she may perceive that this consumption facilitated the victory. Subsequently, the fan may continue to purchase and consume this same item during future games, in an attempt to help the team. This behavior is known as “conditioned superstition.” Data from five experiments indicate that preference for lucky products (i.e., those associated with positive outcomes) increases with higher levels of desire for control combined with lower levels of perceived ability to control outcomes (e.g., low generalized self-efficacy). People who express a preference for these lucky products form an illusion of control over future outcomes, so that they perceive superstitious behavior to be an effective strategy to achieve the desired result.

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