Hye Jeung Cho


The metacognitive experience of the ease or difficulty with which new, external information can be processed, referred to as ‘processing fluency,’ has been shown to influence a wide range of human judgments including truth judgments, familiarity judgments, risk perception, evaluation, and preference (see Alter and Oppenheimer 2009 for a review). The current research explores the possibility of a consumer`s product innovativeness judgment based on the difficulty of processing new information. In specific, this study examines if the inferential link between (dis)fluency-(un)familiarity can feed into the perception of innovativeness. This study also explores how a consumer`s processing motivation can moderate the consumer`s reliance on processing fluency in judgments and how the influence of fluency can vary depending on judgment task orders. In an experiment, participants rated a new product`s innovativeness and then indicated their product attitude (or vice versa depending on the judgment task order condition) after reading a product review article that was printed in either an easy-to-read or a difficult-to-read font (for fluency manipulation). The findings show that low need for cognition individuals infer higher product innovativeness when processing product information is difficult rather than easy, consistent with the common assumption that ‘new information is more difficult to process than familiar information.’ The findings also suggest that once low fluency is attributed to innovativeness, it may no longer lead to a negative response to the product. High need for cognition individuals` judgments on product innovativeness are not affected by fluency. The findings also demonstrate a judgment task order effect on the use of fluency in judgments (e.g., Xu and Schwarz 2005). This study provides the first evidence that an individual`s fluency experience can be used as a source of information in product innovativeness judgments especially under low processing motivation conditions. The findings can help marketers better understand the malleability of consumer judgments and perceptions of product characteristics (e.g., product innovativeness) by demonstrating an interesting interplay of processing fluency, processing motivation, and judgment task-related contextual factors.

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