Bad news, now or later..

OK, let say the spring semester is done last week and today I will do some fun stuffs with family, which I have planned a couple of weeks ago. Right before I start the car, my phone rings to give a notification that my grade for this semester has been announced and I can check them through the Website. What would you do in this situation? A paper in the Judgment and Decision Making examined the information avoidance and/or information delay (Shani et al., 2012).

When the authors asked 227 students (80 examinees who took an exam on Tuesday, and 147 examinees who took an exam on Friday), only 111 out of 147 (75.5%) students, who took the exam on Friday, checked the correct answers within two days, while 91.5 of students who took the exam on Tuesday checked the answers within two days. The finding represents that the people are more likely to postpone finding out their grade until after a pleasurable event (a weekend).

In order to address a hypothesis that people temporarily avoid information if they think it could interfere with a pleasurable event, the researchers conducted a similar survey assuming the participant has taken a qualifying exam – a fixed factorial design with type of weekend (Regular weekend vs. weekend in Paris for vacation) as a between-subjects variable and the rumination questions (expected rumination about the uncertainty of having possible failed an exam or the expected rumination about knowing they had failed the exam) as a within-subjects variable. In the regular weekend, participants expected to ruminate more over a possible failure than over a known failure, while participants who were asked to answer with regard to the enjoyable weekend expected to ruminate relatively more if they decided to check and found out they failed than if they decided not to check. This results indicated that people believe having negative knowledge would be worse during a vacation, whereas ignorance about that knowledge would not matter a lot during an enjoyable weekend.

Another study in which the participants were asked to answer about the information avoidance in different situations – 2 weekend type (regular vs. weekend of my brother’s wedding) and 2 HIV test reason (blood donation vs. in case of stabbed by a dirty injection needle that probably belonged to a junkie) – supports the findings that the more people wanted the weekend to be pleasurable as possible, the more they avoided the information.

When it comes to exploratory search through which I measure people’s information seeking behavior in more natural setting – even though sometimes it takes place in a lab with very limited flexibility compared to everyday life search – to what extent will participants avoid or postpone more rich search? Definitely not because they want to spend a enjoyable weekend given that the usual lab task would take less then an hour and the information they asked to look for is not highly related to their well-being, happy grades, luxury of life, etc. When we see the processes that happening an exploratory search as (1) visiting and (2) seeing, the information avoidance presented in this study is about the seeing part, where reading, seeing, understanding, reasoning the information is taking place in individuals’ context.



Shani, Y., Van de Ven, N., & Zeelenberg, M. (2012). Delaying information search. Judgment and Decision Making, 7(6), 750.


The role of exploratory buying behavior tendencies in choices made for others

Chowdhury, T. G., Ratneshwar, S., & Desai, K. K. (2009). The role of exploratory buying behavior tendencies in choices made for others. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19(3), 517-525. link

The paper covers the concept of exploratory buying behavior tendencies (EBBT) as the consumer trait that is strongly associated with the variety-seeking behavior. The main question they address in the paper is: Can EBBT influence even choices made for others?

Factors examined in the study are:

  • EBBT scores
  • Diversity in consideration sets
  • Search motives: utilitarian search motives vs. hedonic search motives
  • Regulatory focus: promotion focus (when a decision maker strive to attain the outcome by means that are approach-oriented) vs. prevention focus (avoidance-oriented)
  • Budget constraint



  • High EBBT individuals have salience of hedonic search motives and consequently form more diverse consideration sets.
  • With a specific budget, high EBBT consumers are likely to diversify their gift choices by buying a greater number of relatively lower-priced items.
  • The effects of EBBT traits are attenuated when the regulatory focus of the person making decision is one of prevention rather than promotion.



  • This work finds that the dispositional, an individual difference variable, EBBT trait can extend its influence beyond a person’s own consumption to situation, while previous studies have focused on the situational variables in variety-seeking behavior. This approach shares my argument that individual’s innate pattern in geographical and physical movement can explain and predict that person’s information exploration behavior when online searching.
  • If I consider a user study examining individuals’ EBBT during the search task(s), I can use the methods describes here, such as:
    • EBBT scores developed by Baumgartner and Steenkamp (1996)
    • Survey asking participants to choose consideration sets
    • Questionnaire that assesses the salience of henonic search motives
    • Manipulation of regulatory focus adding different sentences in the end of scenario


Stress, Control, and Consumer Saving and Spending

I read a research paper, The Effect of Stress on Consumer Saving and Spending, written by Kristina M. Durante and Juliano Laran, forthcoming in Journal of Marketing Research.

The paper presents results of seven experiments showing the influence of stress on consumer saving and spending, along with examining the effect of control over stress.

Methods include:

  • Participants from MTurk and undergrads
  • Experimental design with 2×2 (stress and control) between-subjects design

Conclusions (copied from the paper):

  • Stress led consumers to prefer to save rather than spend money (Pilot Experiment, Experiments 1 and 3).
  • When faced with the decision of where to spend money, they preferred to spend on necessities rather than nonnecessities (Experiments 2 and 4), and this effect was mediated by a willingness to restore control (Experiment 4).
  • The effects of stress, however, were attenuated when perceptions of control were enhanced, both with a manipulation (Experiments 1 and 3) and measurement (Experiment 2).
  • Manipulating the nature of the stressor (new job versus current job stress) changed perceptions of items typically perceived as nonnecessities, which led to increased spending on these items (Experiment 5).
  • Finally, leading people to believe that efforts to restore control would likely fail reversed the effect, decreasing the importance attributed to saving (Experiment 6).


  • Can we use the stress/control manipulation methods in the situation of information seeking in general, and/or in the case of consumer information search?
  • Instead of measuring the stress and  control level via participants’ self report, how about using Q-sensor or wearable device that captures physiological signals and activities such as Fitbit HR?