Abstract

We offer a framework about when and how specifications (e.g., megapixels of a camera and number of air bags in a massage chair) influence consumer preferences and report five studies that test the framework. Studies 1–3 show that even when consumers can directly experience the relevant products and the specifications carry little or no new information, their preference is still influenced by specifications, including specifications that are self-generated and by definition spurious and specifications that the respondents themselves deem uninformative. Studies 4 and 5 show that relative to choice, hedonic preference (liking) is more stable and less influenced by specifications.

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