Topic:The Influence of Disease Cues on Consumer Preferences: An Evolutionary Perspective
Speaker:Yunhui Huang, PhD Candidate in Marketing at the School of Business and Management, HKUST
Time:Wednesday, 10 October, 13:30-15:00
Location:Room K01, Guanghua Building 2
Infectious diseases posed strong selection pressure on our ancestors, a process that shaped the evolution of human species. This research examines how evolutionarily-developed adaptive mechanisms developed to ward off disease threat may inadvertently spill over to the consumer context and bias product preferences. In particular, I propose that cues related to infectious diseases heighten consumers’ motivation to avoid products associated with many (vs. few) people, because of the lay belief that other people serve as a likely source of transmission. This in turn increases consumers’ relative preference for atypical (vs. typical) product options, because atypical products are implicitly associated with fewer people relative to typical ones. A series of studies confirmed the hypothesized effect and identified theoretically-derived conditions under which it could be eliminated or even reversed. Specifically, we found that the disease-induced preference for atypicality was eliminated when the decision target itself involved no infection risk, when consumers had a chance to visualize cleaning their hands before choosing the products, or when the primed disease was not infectious in nature. Finally, our effect was reversed when consumers were led to believe that the best way to avoid disease was to "stay with the crowd", or when the typical option was explicitly endorsed over the atypical option by a majority of consumers.
Yunhui Huang is a Marketing Ph.D. student at the School of Business and Management, HKUST. Her research interests include disease threat, affect and emotions, power, and social crowding. She received her B.Sc. degree in Management Science from Sichuan University and her M.Phil. degree in Marketing from HKUST. Before Joining HKUST, she also studied in Fudan University for three years. When not busy with research, she is an avid swimmer.
Your participation is warmly welcomed!