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Consumer Response to False Information: Is Believability Necessary for Persuasion?. Claudiu V. Dimofte Georgetown University Richard F. Yalch University of Washington May 7, 2005 Vancouver, BC. Outline. Crisis Management Damage Control (Study 5) False Marketplace Information

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Consumer response to false information is believability necessary for persuasion l.jpg

Consumer Response to False Information:Is Believability Necessary for Persuasion?

Claudiu V. Dimofte

Georgetown University

Richard F. Yalch

University of Washington

May 7, 2005

Vancouver, BC


Outline l.jpg
Outline

  • Crisis Management

    • Damage Control (Study 5)

  • False Marketplace Information

    • Negative Rumors about Company/Brand

    • Overselling of Product/Brand Features

  • The Implicit Account

  • Rumors

    • Information Processing (Studies 1, 2, 3)

  • Infomercials

    • Curious Disbelief (sic) (Study 4)

  • Discussion/Conclusions


  • Slide3 l.jpg

    DECEPTIVESALES

    RUMORS

    ADS/WOM

    CRISES


    Slide4 l.jpg

    DECEPTIVESALES

    RUMORS

    ADS/WOM

    CRISES


    Coping with crises l.jpg
    Coping with Crises

    • Examples

      • Celebrities

        • Bill O’Reilly – sexual harassment

        • Michael Jackson – being weird

        • Pat O’Brien – alcoholic leaving obscene messages

        • Martha Stewart – prison time for lying

        • Janet Jackson – Superbowl

        • Paul Abdul – misbehavior with contestant


    Damage control l.jpg
    Damage Control

    • Do Nothing – Bill O’Reilly

    • Refutation – Michael Jackson

    • Apologize and Go On – Pat O’Brien

    • Retrieval – Martha Stewart “Apprentice spinoff”

    • Storage – Janet Jackson “Equipment malfunction”

    • Counterattack – Paula Abdul


    Study 5 damage control l.jpg
    Study 5: Damage Control

    • Goals:

      • Look at all damage control strategies in one experiment

  • Participants:

    • 133 undergrads from introductory GT Marketing class

  • Method:

    • Participants are exposed to news coverage on Bank of America losing customer data

    • Participants take IAT and provide explicit truth ratings


  • Study 5 stimuli l.jpg
    Study 5 - Stimuli

    • Explicit Procedure Stimuli:

      • Participants read web news story on Bank of America’s losing data

      • After short delay, they are given 6-item questionnaire about problem gravity, responsibility, BA evaluation, BA data safety, importance of apology, safety of BA vs. WF

      • Conditions: apology, do nothing, deny, counterattack, storage, retrieval

  • Implicit Procedure Stimuli:

    • IAT Bank of America/Wells Fargo, safe/unsafe






  • Slide13 l.jpg

    ATTACK

    RETRIEVAL








    Study 5 conclusions l.jpg
    Study 5 – Conclusions

    • Explicit Results:

      • Apologize: Admitting fault was generally worst strategy.

      • Ignore: left doubt and did not help. Second worst strategy.

      • Refute: slight help with most issues.

      • Storage: lowered perceived severity & BofA concerns. Best strategy.

      • Retrieval: only lowered severity but aided overall evaluation.

      • Counterattack: Minimized severity but kept low safety ratings. Similar but not as good as retrieval for overall evaluations.


    Study 5 conclusions21 l.jpg
    Study 5 – Conclusions

    • Implicit Results:

      • Bank of America is strongly automatically associated with ‘unsafe’ in all cases except:

        • apology (only time better thanWells Fargo)

        • storage (equal to Wells Fargo)

    • Overall Insights:

      • Storage works at both levels, by turning – into +

      • Apology

        • – for explicits but + for implicits

        • Explicit judgments, think about why they apologized

        • Implicit judgments, think about BofA not the apology or safety


    Slide22 l.jpg

    DECEPTIVESALES

    RUMORS

    ADS/WOM

    CRISES


    False negative information l.jpg
    False Negative Information

    • Rumors about Company/Brand

      • Rumors: specific propositions or beliefs passed along from person to person without any secure standards of evidence(Allport and Postman 1947)

      • Originate in unconscious desires that are transformed to become conscious (Rossignol 1973)

      • “[…] the rumor could exist at various levels of consciousness and could lead one to get a pizza or a taco without being aware of why one did so” (Koenig 1985)


    Unfounded rumor examples l.jpg
    Unfounded Rumor Examples

    • Corona

    • Mountain Dew

    • Procter & Gamble


    Failing to combat rumors can have severe consequences l.jpg
    Failing to Combat Rumors can have Severe Consequences


    Rumor quelling strategies l.jpg
    Rumor Quelling Strategies

    • Tybout et al. (1981): refutation does not work, use storage or retrieval strategies

    • Iyer and Debevec (1991): rumors are less credible when propagated by someone that can gain out of its dissemination

    • Koller (1992): the best way to fight rumors is to explain their rumor and lack of veracity via positive advertising

    • Kamins et al. (1997): rumors are generally more easily spread when they are personally relevant and favorable

    • Bordia et. al (2000): best way to fight rumors is via honest denial


    Information processing insights l.jpg
    Information Processing Insights

    • Tybout et al. (1981)

      • Directly refuting rumors is the least effective way to deal with them; offered two alternative strategies:

      • STORAGE STRATEGY: expose consumers to a secondary stimulus during encoding of rumor information, making the brand more likely to be associated with that stimulus rather than the rumor

      • RETRIEVAL STRATEGY: expose consumers to a secondary stimulus during retrieval of brand information, thus lessening the chance of the joint retrieval of brand and rumor


    Information processing insights cont d l.jpg
    Information Processing Insights(cont’d)

    • Tybout et al. (1981) design: employed rumor of McDonald’s’ use of red worm meat in their burgers

      • STORAGE STRATEGY: during encoding of worm rumor information, consumers were exposed to a secondary stimulus (confederate claiming a famous, pricey local French restaurant uses tasty worm sauces)

        GOAL: make worm meat more desirable or more associated with French restaurants than McDonalds.


    Information processing insights cont d29 l.jpg
    Information Processing Insights(cont’d)

    • RETRIEVAL STRATEGY: during retrieval of McDonald’s information, consumers were exposed to a secondary stimulus (questionnaire about the McDonald’s location they frequent the most) GOAL: lessen likelihood of joint retrieval of McDonald’s and worm meat rumor

    • REFUTATION STRATEGY: after exposure to worm rumor, consumers were exposed to McDonald’s’ claim that red worm meat is too expensive to use.GOAL: alter believability of the worm rumor



    Information processing insights cont d31 l.jpg
    Information Processing Insights(cont’d)

    • Problem: no clear understanding of what the processing mechanisms behind these effects are

    • STORAGE: did it disrupt the McDonald’s – worms association or did it make eating worms more positive by relating it to French food?

    • RETRIEVAL: did it block the activation of the McDonald’s – worm association or inhibited its retrieval in relation to other McDonald’s thoughts?

    • REFUTATION: after study, subjects in all conditions showed strong disbelief in the rumor’s veracity so why were they still affected by it?


    Explicit vs implicit processing l.jpg
    Explicit vs. Implicit Processing

    "Are you aware of the unconscious hostility you are exhibiting to us right now?“

    Doctor X, Psychiatrist

    ”How could I be aware if it's unconscious?”

    Leonard, Mental Hospital patientin the movie The Awakening


    Explicit vs implicit processing33 l.jpg
    Explicit vs. Implicit Processing

    • Explicit (implicit) processing: those aspects of cognition which are (un)available to the individual's conscious awareness.

    • The methods used to test for each differ:

      • explicit processing is typically examined directly, by asking individuals to evaluate their own thought processes;

      • implicit processing is typically examined indirectly by evaluating performance on tests that depend on thought processes that are not subject to introspection.


    Explicit vs implicit processing34 l.jpg
    Explicit vs. Implicit Processing

    • Fazio et al. (1986): attitudes characterized by a strong association between the attitude object (AO) and its evaluation are capable of being activated from memory automatically upon mere presentation of AO.

    • Devine (1989): dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice

      • social stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member of stereotyped group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition thereof


    Explicit vs implicit processing35 l.jpg
    Explicit vs. Implicit Processing

    • Bargh et al. (1996): stereotypes become active automatically in the presence of relevant behavior or stereotyped-group features

      • participants for whom an elderly stereotype was primed walked more slowly down the hallway when leaving experiment

    • Greenwald et al. (1998): measured individual differences in implicit cognition with implicit association test (IAT)

    • Bottom line: automatic cognition occurs and is driven by associations that we generally cannot control.


    Rumor processing the implicit account l.jpg
    Rumor Processing: The Implicit Account

    • False information persuades via an unconscious route by building automatic associations between brands and the information cues in the message.

    • While explicitly rejecting the veracity of outlandish brand rumors, consumers lack control over the implicit associations occurring at exposure and being practiced during subsequent evaluations.


    Study 1 storage l.jpg
    Study 1 - Storage

    • Goal:

      • Replicate Tybout et al. (1981) storage strategy results

      • Disentangle processing mechanisms behind strategy

  • Participants:

    • 229 undergrads from introductory Marketing class

  • Method:

    • Participants are exposed to rumor and secondary stimulus

    • Filler task for 5 minutes

    • Participants take IAT, then provide explicit brand ratings


  • Study 1 stimuli l.jpg
    Study 1 - Stimuli

    • Explicit Procedure Stimuli:

      • Participants read series of supposed New York Times news stories on politics, business (McDonald’s worm rumor troubles in Asia), sports, and leisure.

      • Half read about gourmet worm food from AsiaHalf read about house decorating.

  • Implicit Measures:

    • IAT McDonald’s/Burger-King, food-related/worm-related

    • IAT food-related/worm-related, pleasant/unpleasant


  • Study 1 stimuli cont d l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    McDonald’s Burger King

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d40 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    McDonald’s Burger King

    larva

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d41 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    McDonald’s Burger King

    beef

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d42 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    McDonald’s Burger King

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d43 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    Pleasant Unpleasant

    beef

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d44 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    Pleasant Unpleasant

    rainbow

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d45 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Worm-related Food-related

    OR OR

    Pleasant Unpleasant

    hurricane

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 explicit results l.jpg
    Study 1 – Explicit Results press “k” for

    • Tybout et al. (1981) results replicate: consumers in the storage condition have higher evaluations of McDonald’s than those in the rumor-only condition: t(228) = -2.20, p < .03


    Study 1 iat results l.jpg

    McDonald’s -Worms press “k” for

    Worms - Unpleasant

    Worms - Pleasant

    McDonald’s -Food

    Study 1 – IAT Results

    • McDonald’s is equally (and weakly) associated with worms in both conditions:

    • t(117) < 1, ns

    • Worms are associated with unpleasant in both conditions, but less so in storage:

    • t(110) = 2.34, p < .03


    Study 1 conclusion unresolved issue l.jpg
    Study 1 – Conclusion & Unresolved Issue press “k” for

    • Conclusion: the storage strategy works by minimizing the negative feelings associated with the rumor via the positive secondary stimulus

    • Problem: the McDonald’s – Worms IAT showed little association, even in the control condition

    • Stronger rumor induction may be needed (vivid images or repetition).


    Study 2 retrieval vs refutation l.jpg
    Study 2 – Retrieval vs Refutation press “k” for

    • Goal: compare two strategies in terms of implementation delay following rumor exposure.

    • Method:

      • 113 participants exposed to rumor

      • Followed by secondary stimulus

        • Retrieval – questions unrelated to rumor

        • Refutation – statement why the rumor is false

      • Filler task for 5 or 30 minutes

      • Participants take IAT, then provide explicit brand ratings


    Study 2 stimuli l.jpg
    Study 2 - Stimuli press “k” for

    • Explicit Procedure Stimuli:

      • Participants read series of supposed New York Times news stories on politics, business (McDonald’s worm rumor troubles in Asia), sports, and leisure.

      • After short/long delay, they are given 4-item questionnaire about the McDonald’s/Circuit City they frequent, or read McDonald’s press release refuting rumor.

  • Implicit Measures:

    • IAT McDonald’s/Burger-King, food-related/worm-related


  • Study 2 explicit results l.jpg

    * press “k” for

    *

    * p < .05

    Study 2 – Explicit Results

    • Tybout et al. (1981) results do not replicate:

      • interaction Condition x Delay: F(2, 96) = 3.14, p < .05

    • Retrieval strategy does not work, fast refutation does


    Study 2 iat results l.jpg

    McDonald’s - Food press “k” for

    *

    *

    McDonald’s - Worms

    * p < .05

    Study 2 – IAT Results

    • Main effect of Delay: F(2, 104) = 3.34, p = .07

    • Retrieval does work implicitly if positive thoughts elicited fast enough

    • Rumors are difficult to fight after delay


    Study 3 l.jpg
    Study 3 press “k” for

    • Automatic associations quickly established with initial exposures and explicit and implicit – but is this limited to novel stimuli?

      • If so, we are truly not as susceptible to undue influence

      • If not, can anything be done to prevent undue associations from emerging?

    • Test: employ strong pre-existing association, try to change it[s strength] via rumor


    Study 354 l.jpg
    Study 3 press “k” for

    • Goals:

      • Look at strong, universally prevalent association:

        • Females and caring

  • Participants:

    • 133 undergrads from introductory GT Marketing class

  • Method:

    • Participants are exposed to male pregnancy rumor or message on home decoration

    • Participants take IAT and provide explicit truth ratings


  • Study 3 stimuli l.jpg
    Study 3 - Stimuli press “k” for

    • Explicit Procedure Stimuli:

      • Participants read supposed CNN story on Asian hospital and its male pregnancy program (house decoration in control)

      • After short delay, they are given 4-item questionnaire about the likelihood of this story’s being true, etc.

      • All asked about possibility of male pregnancy

  • Implicit Procedure Stimuli:

    • IAT female/male names, caring/uncaring


  • Study 1 stimuli cont d56 l.jpg

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Male Female

    OR OR

    caring uncaring

    John

    Study 1 – Stimuli(cont’d)


    Study 1 stimuli cont d57 l.jpg
    Study 1 – Stimuli press “k” for(cont’d)

    press “d” for press “k” for

    Male Female

    OR OR

    caring uncaring

    nurturing


    Study 3 results l.jpg
    Study 3 - Results press “k” for

    • Explicit Results:

      • Rumor elicits more curiosity: t(132) = 130.34, p < .001

      • Rumor is not credible: t(132) = 125.13, p < .001

      • Male pregnancy is possible: t(132) = 131.20, p < .001

    • Implicit Results:

      • Both conditions associate female names more with ‘caring’

      • Slightly less so in rumor condition, ns


    Studies 1 3 conclusions l.jpg
    Studies 1 – 3 Conclusions press “k” for

    • Rumors are difficult to manage because explicit beliefs are often not a consideration

      • Worm rumor not believed but McDonalds attitudes

      • Male pregnancy believed but males no more caring

    • Believability does not appear to be a major consideration in using information to make judgments.


    Studies 1 3 explanations l.jpg
    Studies 1 – 3 Explanations press “k” for

    • Cartesian view on comprehension and acceptance of assertions: messages are at once comprehended and rejected if assessed to be unbelievable

    • Spinozan view: all information is first accepted during comprehension, and only subsequently rejected upon believability assessment (Gilbert et al. 1990).

    • Support for the latter: all information is automatically awarded bona fide status upon encounter, unless strong prior associations of different valence exist.


    False positive information l.jpg
    False Positive Information press “k” for

    • Overselling of Product/Brand Features

      • “Too-good-to-be-true” commercial/infomercial claims

  • Pragmatic Implications

    • Consumers drawing unwarranted inferences (Kardes 1988) due to processing or production deficits (Gaeth and Heath 1987)

    • Richards (1990) lists 14 types of deceptive advertising(preemptive – Wonder Bread builds Strong Bodies 12 ways)


  • False positive information62 l.jpg
    False Positive Information press “k” for

    • The “Curious Disbelief” Phenomenon

      • “Hard to Believe” Advertising Claims may motivate trial more than believable claimsMaloney (1962)


    Infomercial persuasion the implicit account l.jpg
    Infomercial Persuasion: press “k” for The Implicit Account

    • False information persuades via an unconscious route by building automatic associations between brands and the novel information cues in the message.

    • While explicitly rejecting the veracity of outlandish infomercial claims, consumers lack control over the implicit associations occurring at exposure and being practiced during subsequent evaluations.


    Study 4 power of infomercials l.jpg
    Study 4: Power of Infomercials press “k” for

    • Goals:

      • Replicate Maloney (1962) explicit results

      • Disentangle processing mechanisms behind curious disbelief

  • Method:

    • 62 participants are exposed to Ultimate Chopper infomercial: alone, preceded or followed by discounting cue (video or text)

    • Explicit dependent measures collected

    • Participants take two IATs: interesting/believable


  • Study 4 stimuli l.jpg
    Study 4 - Stimuli press “k” for

    • Explicit Procedure Stimuli:

      • Participants watch about 90 seconds-worth of edited Ultimate Chopper infomercial or read equivalent text

      • Discounting cue: about 90 seconds-worth of edited 20/20 footage on infomercial scams

  • Implicit Procedure Stimuli:

    • IAT Ultimate Chopper/Henckels knives, boring/interesting

    • IAT Ultimate Chopper/Henckels, believable/unbelievable


  • Infomercial l.jpg
    Infomercial press “k” for


    Infomercial expose l.jpg
    Infomercial - Expose press “k” for


    Study 4 explicit results l.jpg

    a,b press “k” for

    a

    b

    Study 4 – Explicit Results

    • There is something special about (video) infomercials: Explicit Rating

      • main effect: F(3, 61) = 2.40, p = .09; a,b: p < .03


    Study 4 explicit results69 l.jpg

    a,b press “k” for

    a

    b

    Study 4 – Explicit Results

    • Infomercials are generally not credible: all conditions show

    • disbelief: text info best (slightly above .5 – range: -3 to 3)

    • F(3, 61) = 2.3, p = .08; a,b: p < .05

    • Check via suspicion


    Study 4 explicit results70 l.jpg

    a,c press “k” for

    b,d

    a,b

    c,d

    Study 4 – Explicit Results

    • Supports believability results and shows that cue instills suspicion:

    • F(3, 64) = 4.6, p < .006; a,b: p < .05; c,d: p < .005

    • Again, we have explicit disbelief


    Study 4 explicit results71 l.jpg
    Study 4 – Explicit Results press “k” for

    • Not a lot of explicit curiosity elicited: irrelevant category?

    • F(3, 61) = .2, ns


    Study 4 explicit results72 l.jpg
    Study 4 – Explicit Results press “k” for

    a,b

    c,d

    a,c

    b,d

    • Similar shape/results for several claims (e.g., crushes ice, will never dull)

    • Peanut Butter main effect: F(3, 63) = 5.1, p < .003

    • a,c: p < .03; b,d: p < .003

    • Nonbelief drives evaluations


    Study 4 iat results l.jpg

    Chopper-Interesting press “k” for

    Chopper-Believable

    Chopper-Boring

    Chopper-Unbelievable

    Study 4 – IAT Results


    Study 4 iat results74 l.jpg
    Study 4 – IAT Results press “k” for

    • Interesting IAT: F(3, 58) = 3.3, p < .03 (we have some implicit curiosity for all infomercial conditions, text quite boring: an issue of delivery?)

    • Believable IAT: F(3, 58) = 1.9, p = .14 (no implicit disbelief, infomercial seems to build instant automatic believability: an issue of testimonials?)

    • It appears the “curious nonbelief” phenomenon translates into “curious implicit belief”


    Support for the implicit account l.jpg
    Support for The Implicit Account press “k” for

    • False information may persuade via an automatic route by building automatic associations between brands and the novel information cues in the message.

    • While explicitly rejecting the veracity of outlandish infomercial claims or brand rumors, consumers lack control over the implicit associations occurring at exposure and being practiced during subsequent evaluations.

    • Is believability really important? The response is automatic…


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