Transfer-Appropriate Processing, Response Fluency, and the Mere Measurement Effect

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Key Takeaways
Chris Janiszewski and Elise Chandon

Executive Summary
The mere measurement effect occurs when the act of responding to an initial-intent question alters respondents' subsequent evaluations and behaviors. Empirically similar to the self-prophecy effect, the influence of mere measurement has been documented in a wide variety of situations, including automobile and home personal computer purchases, shopping behavior, voting behavior, and socially desirable (e.g., volunteering, exercising, recycling) or socially undesirable (e.g., illegal drug use, eating fatty food, cheating) behaviors. In each of these cases, responding to the initial-intent question biases subsequent judgments or behaviors in a proattitudinal or socially desirable direction, each factor exerting an independent, and occasionally countervailing, influence.

Traditionally, mere measurement effects have been attributed to the increased accessibility of information supporting a course of action. An initial-intent question encourages a person to retrieve attitudinally consistent information. When the person considers executing the behavior at a subsequent time, this attitudinally consistent information is more available, and the person becomes more likely to engage in the behavior. The authors show that mere measurement effects are also sensitive to response fluency (i.e., the ease with which the processing task can be performed). Consistent with transfer-appropriate processing, the authors show that redundancy in the stimuli and tasks supporting an initial-intent response and a subsequent purchase likelihood response can increase the purchase likelihood. A person can use response fluency as evidence that he or she is predisposed toward the behavior and, consequently, will be more likely to engage in the behavior.

A series of experiments demonstrate how and when response fluency contributes to a mere measurement effect. Experiments 1 and 2 show that response-fluency-driven mere measurement effects occur when there is correspondence between the processes used to respond to the initial-intent question and the processes used to guide a subsequent behavior. These experiments suggest that it is not solely information content nor solely the fluency of an information process (i.e., procedural fluency) that contributes to the mere measurement effect. It is also the response fluency that occurs from reprocessing material similarly on both processing occasions. Experiments 1, 3, and 4 also show that mere measurement effects are sensitive to the relative amount of response fluency associated with making a judgment. If the response to all of the brands available for purchase is equally fluent, people do not become more likely to purchase any of the brands. It is only when a subset of the responses to brands are fluent that mere measurement effects are observed. Finally, Experiment 5 shows that attributions about response fluency will not influence behavior if more diagnostic information content is available.

Chris Janiszewski is the Faricy Professor of Marketing in the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. His current research focuses on perception, learning theory, and context effects as applied to price perception, consumer responses to advertising, and consumer purchase behavior. He has published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Marketing and is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Marketing, and Journal of Marketing Research.

Elise Chandon is Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has a master's degree in Management from the University of Paris IX Dauphine, France, and a PhD in Marketing from the University of Florida. In her research, she uses psychological principles to understand how consumers' form and update beliefs. In particular, she is interested in how naive causal reasoning affects the acceptance of product claims. Elise also investigates the ways in which consumers are influenced by their naive beliefs and by the inferences they make using them. Other topics of interest include beliefs stability, measurement effects, and processing fluency.

Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XLIV, No. 2, May 2007
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