Manuscripts Under Review
- Wei, Sarah and Gerald Häubl, “Switching Traps: How the Opportunity to Switch Among Activities Can Reduce the Hedonic Value of Consumption Experiences”
When consumers face a choice among candidate activities, having the opportunity to switch among these is appealing in that it allows exploration of different activities without being required to select one to the exclusion of all others, which should help consumers identify the most desirable activity. We propose that, in addition to this beneficial aspect, the opportunity to switch can also backfire. In particular, by encouraging experiential exploration, it undermines commitment to any one of the candidate activities, which reduces hedonic value (i.e., consumers’ enjoyment and satisfaction). We present a theoretical framework that identifies the classes of settings in which the net effect of the opportunity to switch among activities on the hedonic value of an overall consumption experience tends to be positive versus negative. Evidence from six experiments supports this theorizing. It shows that the detrimental hedonic consequences of switching – via a reluctance to commit to any one of the candidate activities – often outweigh its benefits, while also identifying circumstances under which this switching-trap effect is attenuated or reversed.
- Wei, Sarah and Gerald Häubl, “The Motivational Dynamics of Success and Failure”
How does experiencing success versus failure at an activity impact the motivation to achieve success when we engage in the activity again? We propose that the answer to this question depends on whether the activity is construed as work or play. A work construal promotes an outcome orientation, increasing the likelihood that the experienced success or failure is encoded as a signal of activity difficulty. By contrast, a play construal promotes a process orientation, rendering individuals more inclined to encode the experienced outcome as a signal of their competence at performing the activity. Thus, we hypothesize that failure is more motivating than success in work, and that success is more motivating than failure in play. Evidence from four experiments provides support for this this theorizing. The findings advance our understanding of the motivational dynamics of success versus failure over time.
- Wei, Sarah and Christopher K. Hsee (equal authorship), "Situation Neglect Underlies Both Psychological Myopia and Psychological Hyperopia"
How much joy (e.g., play) or pain (e.g., work) people choose to experience in the present often inversely affects how much joy or pain they will experience in the future. Do people make the hedonically optimal choice? This research seeks to make two contributions. First, it offers a new look at the age-old issue of self-control and myopia. While extensive existing research suggests people are generally myopic (choosing too much joy in the present), we propose people are insensitive to the importance of the future relative to the present -- they choose too much joy in the present when the future is more important than the present, and too little joy in the present when the future is less important. Second, this research introduces a new minimalistic (“little- world”) method that allows us and other researchers to study such hedonic-experience-based intertemporal choices. Two experiments using the “little-world” paradigm support our proposition. We found that forcing or nudging people to choose less joy in the present when the future is more important, and more joy in the present when the future is less important increased their overall happiness.
- Ping, Jin, Russ Greiner, Sarah Wei, and Gerald Häubl, “Using Survival Prediction Techniques to Learn Consumer-Specific Reservation Price Distributions,” invited for resubmission to the Journal of Machine Learning Research
A consumer’s “reservation price” (RP) is the highest price that s/he is willing to pay for one unit of a specified product or service. It is an essential concept in many applications, including personalized pricing, auction and negotiation. While consumers will not volunteer their RPs, we may be able to predict these values, based on each consumer’s specific information, using a model learned from earlier consumer transactions. This paper proposes a novel framework of learning RP distributions that involves a model of formulating the relationship between consumers’ RPs and their purchasing decisions. Within this framework, we show a way to estimate the consumer-specific RP distribution using techniques from the survival prediction — here viewing the consumers’ purchasing choices as censored observations. To validate this framework of RP, we run experiments on realistic data, with four survival prediction methods. These models performed very well (under three different criteria) on the task of estimating consumer-specific RP distributions, which shows that our RP framework can be effective. We also find that the multi-task logistic regression model (MTLR) dominated the other models under all three evaluation criteria.
- Dellaert, Benedict, Gerald Häubl, and Sarah Wei, “Choice vs. Search Mindsets and Consumers’ Assortment Size Preference,” manuscript in preparation
This research examines consumers’ preferences regarding how many alternatives they would like to be presented with when making a purchase decision. We show that an important driver of assortment-size preferences is whether consumers approach the purchase decision with a choice mindset or a search mindset. In a choice mindset, consumers focus on evaluating alternatives that are already known to them, and on making comparisons among these alternatives. By contrast, in a search mindset, consumers focus on what alternatives they have yet to discover, and on assessing the attractiveness of each individual alternative as they encounter it. These opposing mindsets can be activated by inherent properties of a product domain, by situational factors, or by procedural aspects of the decision process. Our findings reveal that consumers tend to prefer larger assortments when they are in a search mindset and smaller assortments when they are in a choice mindset. Moreover, these mindsets predictably influence consumers’ inclination to make a purchase decision and the quality of their purchase decisions in different-sized assortments.
- Fisher, Robert and Sarah Wei, “It Sometimes Hurts to Smile: Consumers’ Evaluations of Service Professionals,” manuscript in preparation
Smile is an important criterion in service industry, as it indicates the warmth of the service provided. This paper examines how smile influences consumers’ evaluation of service professionals who provide specific domain knowledge and well-trained skills (e.g., physicians). Intuitively, competence of such service professionals (e.g., online reviews of responsible/ irresponsible treatments) should impose greater impact, than perceived warmth, which is reflected by the smile, on consumers’ overall evaluation. Counter to this intuition, this paper demonstrates that smile can enhance the intention to visit a physician, even when online reviews indicate that he/she is incompetent on providing effective treatments. More importantly, this positive effect of smile is moderated by the perceived trustworthy of the service professionals (i.e., whether the service professionals can behave in a consumer’s best interest). In particular, when a doctor is trustworthy, smile increases the intention to visit him/her through increasing perceived genuineness; in contrast, when a doctor is untrustworthy, smile decreases the intention to visit him/her through decreasing the perceived warmth. This paper sheds lights on understanding how consumers evaluating service professionals when they are smiling.
- Wei, Sarah and Gerald Häubl, “The Imminent-End Effect: How the Approaching End of an Experience Affects Enjoyment”
This research examines how knowing a pleasurable experience is about to end influences consumers’ enjoyment of it. Evidence from five experiments shows that the imminent end reduces enjoyment when consumers perceive little control over the hedonic quality of the experience, and increases enjoyment when consumers perceive great control.
Selected Work in Progress
- With Gerald Häubl and Nahid Ibrahim, “The Consumption of Violence: When Does Playing Violent Video Games Promote Versus Suppress Aggressive Behavior?”
- With Gerald Häubl and Yu Ding, “I’d Rather Die Alone! Dynamic Search Behavior in Mate Selection”
- With Xianchi Dai, “Is Gain More Motivating than Loss in Competition?”