Goal-derived categories: the role of personal and situational goals in category representations

Ratneshwar, S., Barsalou, L. W. , Pechmann, C. and Moore, M. (2001) Goal-derived categories: the role of personal and situational goals in category representations. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 10(3), pp. 147-157. (doi: 10.1207/s15327663jcp1003_3)

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Prior research often emphasized a stimulus-based or bottom-up view of product category representations. In contrast, we emphasize a more purposeful, top-down perspective and examine categories that consumers might construct in the service of salient (i.e., highly accessible) goals. Specifically, we investigate how the point of view imposed by salient consumer goals might affect category representations assessed by participants’ similarity judgments of food products. A key factor in our study is that we examine both individual and situational sources of variability in goal salience. In addition, we also vary the surface-level, visual resemblance of the stimulus pairs of foods used in the study. The results suggest that personal goals (e.g., health) and situational goals (e.g., convenience) act in conjunction and exert a systematic impact on category representations. Both types of goals, when salient, enhanced the perceived similarity of goal-appropriate products and reduced the similarity of product pairs when only one product was ideal for the particular goal. The similarity-enhancing effect was most pronounced when the surface resemblance between the products was low, and the similarity-diminishing effect was more apparent when surface resemblance was high. Implications are discussed for current theoretical assumptions regarding categorization in consumer research.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Ratneshwar, S., Barsalou, L. W., Pechmann, C., and Moore, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Consumer Psychology
Publisher:Elsevier Inc.
ISSN (Online):1532-7663

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