Stereotypes can deter consumer purchases: Study

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new research has found that the perception of negative stereotyping, particularly in the areas of financial services and automobile sales and service, can cause consumers to fear being duped and forgo their purchases.

The study was conducted by University of Minnesota associate professor Kathleen D. Vohs with the help of Hakkyun Kim (Concordia University, Canada) and Kyoungmi Lee (Yonsei University, Korea).

They found that a potential buyer, aware of negative associations held about a group to which he or she belongs, may experience apprehension when transacting with someone from outside this group.

This nervousness detrimentally impacts purchasing decisions.

“People naturally withdraw from situations where they anticipate being stereotyped. They fear being duped or inadvertently reinforcing the negative association,” said Vohs.

To come out with the result, the researchers conducted three experiments.

The first focused on women’s feelings when interacting with potential financial advisors.

When predisposed to conditions meant to remind participants of the stereotype that women are less competent at math than men, women reported feeling more anxious about interacting with a male financial advisor and less inclined to procure financial services.

The second experiment tested these findings in an automobile repair context. When asked to report their gender before seeking a car repair, women were more likely to feel anxiety when considering a transaction with a male technician.

This research provides some of the first evidence that the presence of negative stereotypes plays an important role in consumer judgments.

In the study’s third experiment, the researchers found that introducing the scent of vanilla into the decision-making process helped participants feel calmer and more assured of their transaction.

The findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

Filed under: Business

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