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Consumer Learning: Advertising and the Ambiguity of Product Experience

Stephen J. Hoch and Young-Won Ha
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 13, No. 2 (Sep., 1986), pp. 221-233
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2489228
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Consumer Learning: Advertising and the Ambiguity of Product Experience
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Abstract

This paper examines the influence of advertising on how and what consumers learn from product experience. A hypothesis-testing framework is adopted where consumers treat advertisements as tentative hypotheses that can be tested through product experience. Two experiments were conducted using product categories that provided either ambiguous or unambiguous evidence about product quality. The first experiment showed that when consumers have access to unambiguous evidence, judgments of product quality are dependent only on the objective physical evidence and unaffected by advertising. However, advertising had dramatic effects on perceptions of quality when consumers saw ambiguous evidence; judgments and product inspection behavior protocols showed that advertising induced consumers to engage in confirmatory hypothesis testing and search. The second experiment showed that advertising influenced quality judgments by affecting the encoding of the physical evidence; retrieval of ad-consistent evidence also appeared to occur, though to a lesser degree.

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