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The fit of thinking style and situation: New measures of situation‐specific experiential and rational cognition

By Thomas P. Novak and Donna L. Hoffman


Decades of research provide strong evidence that consumers process information in two distinct and qualitatively different ways, rational and experiential. However, little research has addressed situational influences on thinking style, and there have been no attempts to simultaneously measure and validate two-dimensional situation-specific thinking: We develop and validate a new instrument for measuring situation-specific thinking style using performance tasks, consumer Web activities, and differing motivations. We establish differences in thinking style across types of tasks and motivations, and congruence effects related to the fit of situation-specific thinking style and the nature of the task on performance and attitudinal outcomes. Dual processing theories describe two qualitatively dif-ferent systems of consumer information processing. For example, consumers are said to process information rationally or experientially (e.g., Epstein 1994), in a rule-based or associative manner (Sloman 1996), and using "Sys-tem 1 or System 2 " (e.g., Kahneman 2003). A key com-monality among modem dual process theories is the existence of two qualitatively different and interoperating "thinking style " systems, each best suited to its own purpose. Not surprisingly, a parallel duality underlies specific con-sumer behaviors. An extensive literature has identified two categories of consumer activities, generally defined as goal directed or experiential. Dichotomies have been drawn be-tween many behaviors, including work versus play activitie

Year: 2016
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