‘ How situational and dispositional factors predict causal diffusion and product perseverance on ‘Ineffective’ health remedies, with consequences for consumption behavior ‘
by Mesay Moges Menebo
University of South-Eastern Norway
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Extreme loyalty to ‘ineffective’ unconventional health products is widely reported. It is specifically fascinating that even the experience of failure (or lack of improvement) with unconventional remedies is often not enough to turn users off. It seems that consumers of unconventional remedies like holistic medicine are prone to considering themselves, and not the product, the cause of failure or lack of improvement. This phenomenon is particularly interesting because it goes against one of the most elementary findings in consumer behavior, namely the tendency of consumers to attribute product success to themselves and product failure exclusively to the product or service. In this study, I find evidence to this phenomena and rely on causal attribution theory to explore conceptual antecedents and marketing consequences. Study 1-3 report empirical evidence documenting the two phenomena that are central to my inquiry. Study 4 investigates situational factors that are unique in the context, or generally unique to unconventional remedies. In Study 5, it is shown how claims of unconventional remedies are generally difficult to be evaluated by an average consumer, which in turn leads to diffusing causal attribution and eventually favoring perseverance. I argue that low evaluability leads to sustaining motivated cognition thus making causal assignment ambiguous. A specific type of prescientific belief, a belief in psycho-immunology (BPI), which is often promoted by holistic healers, is also described as a potential predictor. BPI is the conviction that mere thoughts, emotional states, feelings and the products of our imaginations can influence or promote our state of health and mitigate the prevalence of disease. Study 6-10 reports development of both a dispositional belief scale for the construct, and documents how it successfully predicts the phenomenon. Study 11-12 documents the interactive effect of situational and dispositional factors both on perseverance and on willingness to pay.