MENU

Research Archive

The Limits of Attraction

Shane Frederick, Leonard Lee, Ernest Baskin

Publication type: Journal article

Research Archive Topic: Marketing

Abstract

Consumer research has documented dozens of instances in which the introduction of an "irrelevant" third option affects preferences between the remaining two. In nearly all such cases, the unattractive dominated option enhances the attractiveness of the option it most resembles — a phenomenon known as the "attraction effect." In the studies presented here, however, we contend that this phenomenon may be restricted to stylized product representations in which every product dimension is represented by a number (e.g., a toaster oven that has a durability of 7.2 and ease of cleaning of 5.5). Such effects do not typically obtain when consumers experience the product (e.g., taste a drink) or when even one of the product attributes is represented perceptually (e.g., differently priced hotel rooms whose quality is depicted with a photo). We posit that perceptual representations of attributes do not support the sorts of comparisons that drive the effect with highly stylized examples, and we question the practical significance of the effect.
Download PDF

Citation

Frederick, Shane, Leonard Lee, and Ernest Baskin. "The Limits of Attraction." Journal of Marketing Research 51, no. 4 (August 2014): 487-507.


Each author name for a Columbia Business School faculty member is linked to a faculty research page, which lists additional publications by that faculty member.

Each topic is linked to an index of publications on that topic.