Reasons for Consumer Confidence Studied

CHICAGO, May 24 (UPI) — U.S. and Canadian scientists say they’ve determined consumer confidence is determined by whether we’re thinking concretely or abstractly.

“We found subjective feelings of ease experienced during judgments (such as when choosing a digital camera, movie or charity) can increase or decrease consumers’ confidence in their choice and the amount of donation depending on whether consumers are thinking … concretely or abstractly,” said University of Toronto Assistant Professor Claire Tsai and University of Chicago Professor Ann McGill.


The researchers said they found abstract thinking and concrete thinking determine the theory consumers adopt to interpret their subjective experiences.

“Consider, for example, the feeling of difficulty one experiences when studying for an exam,” they said. “The subjective experience of difficulty can lead to a feeling of high confidence, providing this difficulty is interpreted as effort put forth to ensure a good grade. On the other hand, the same subjective experience can lead to feeling very low confidence about the grade, if processing difficulty is interpreted as inability to process the study materials.”

They said they found when consumers are thinking more concretely and focusing on details of product information and making a choice based on a clear ad or a few reasons, confidence increases.

“Difficulty of processing — making a choice based on a blurry ad or having to generate many reasons to explain one’s choice — decreases confidence,” they added.

The study is to appear in a future edition of the Journal of Consumer Research.

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