It is generally assumed that when consumers process at a global level, they assimilate contextual standards into target evaluations, resulting in judgment of the target as similar to the contextual standard. When consumers process at a local level, they contrast contextual standards with the target, resulting in judgment of the target as dissimilar from the contextual standard. This research demonstrates that global and local processing are not uniquely associated with a specific effect on judgment. In six studies, we demonstrate that both global and local processing can result in assimilation and contrast effects depending on the level of ambiguity of the target being evaluated. We show that when a target is ambiguous, global processing results in assimilation and local processing results in contrast. When a target is unambiguous, global processing results in contrast and local processing results in assimilation.
Wilcox, Keith, Juliano Laran, and Sankar Sen. "Does Imitation Benefit the Imitated Brand? The Effects of Target Ambiguity and Processing Mindset on Judgment." Columbia Business School, 2018.
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