Attention Modes and Price Importance: How Experiencing and Mind-Wandering Influence the Prioritization of Changeable Stimuli

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Journal of Consumer Research, ISSN: 0093-5301, Vol: 42, Issue: 2, Page: 214-234

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Rahinel, Ryan; Ahluwalia, Rohini
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Business, Management and Accounting; Economics, Econometrics and Finance; Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences
article description
At every waking moment, one’s mode of attention is situated at some point on a spectrum ranging from experiencing, where attention is directed toward perceptions and cognitions related to the immediate physical environment, to mind-wandering, where attention is directed toward thoughts, feelings, and daydreams that are decoupled from the environment. Across five studies, the authors propose and find that people in an experiencing (vs. mind-wandering) mode place more importance on detecting change in their environment, which leads them to prioritize attention toward changeable stimuli (like price) and subsequently afford such stimuli greater weight in judgments and decisions. The research not only uncovers a novel stimuli characteristic—changeability—important in both the domain of attention modes and judgments but also diverges from the typical characterization of price as a salient cue or heuristic to generate a unique set of findings based on price’s inherently changeable nature. More broadly, the findings highlight a way in which consumers’ fundamental judgment and decision-making processes are shaped by cognitive mechanisms designed for the physical world.