Restricted-Use Funds and Budgeting Decisions
André, Quentin, Nicholas Reinholtz, and John G. Lynch Jr. (second round at the Journal of Consumer Research)
- How do consumers budget when a part of their income is denominated in a category-restricted resource (e.g., food stamps)? Building on the mental accounting and categorization literature, we hypothesized that people endowed with a category-restricted resource would be averse to spending their unrestricted money on products of this category. To test this hypothesis, I developed a multi-round, interactive budgeting simulation. We find that people endowed with a food-restricted resource end up budgeting less on food than people who received an equivalent amount in unrestricted money.
The Formation of Dispersion Knowledge in Complex Environments
André, Quentin, Nicholas Reinholtz, and Bart de Langhe (second round at the Journal of Consumer Research)
- Dispersion knowledge (the perception of the variability of a numerical distribution) is a key antecedent of many judgments and decisions, both mundane (e.g., “should I search for a better price?”) and consequential (e.g., “how much should I have in my emergency fund?”). But how does this knowledge develop from experience? Across seven studies, we document a bias in the formation of this dispersion knowledge: Consumers ascribe more variance to a distribution when it was learned in a high (vs. low) variance environment. We show that this “dispersion spillover” has downstream consequences on judgments of price attractiveness, and on consumers’ decision to search for better options.
Slop(p)y Learning: When Market Trends Foster a False Sense of Understanding
André, Quentin and Bart de Langhe (three studies collected, first draft in preparation)
- We demonstrate that the outcome bias (people’s tendency to infer the quality of a decision from its outcome) can exacerbate illusory correlations. To do so, I designed and programmed a simulation in which people make repeated investment decisions, and are asked to learn the characteristics that are associated with higher returns. Unbeknownst to them, the payoffs are independent of their choices, and are manipulated to be increasing (vs. decreasing or flat) over time. We show that this manipulation of slope significantly increases people’s confidence in how much they have learnt, and makes them more confident in their ability to predict future outcomes.
How Not to Make Loss Aversion Disappear and Reverse: A Re-Analysis of Walasek and Stewart (2015)
André, Quentin and Bart de Langhe (manuscript completed)
- Walasek and Stewart (2015) have claimed that loss aversion is a by-product of decision-by-sampling, and provided evidence that it can be attenuated (and even reversed) by experimentally manipulating the range of gains and losses in the decision environment. We challenge their conclusion on statistical grounds: Using mathematical derivations and simulations, we show that Walasek and Stewart’s estimation strategy presents a significant confound. After accounting for this confound, we no longer find evidence in their data that the range of gains and losses had an impact on loss aversion.
Healthy Through Presence or Absence, Nature or Science? A Framework for Understanding Front-Of-Package Food Claims
- We propose that food products claim to be healthy in one of four ways: because they have removed negative properties (e.g., "low fat"), added positive properties (e.g., "high antioxydants), preserved positive properties (e.g., "unprocessed") or not added negative properties (e.g., "No additives"). We show that while consumers make different inferences from those different types of claim, foods bearing different types of claims do not differ in their nutritional properties.
Consumer Choice and Autonomy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
- We explore the opportunities and challenges that the development of automation and artificial intelligence pose to consumers. They can, on the one hand, contribute to consumer well-being by making choices easier, more practical, and more efficient. On the other hand, they can also undermine consumers' sense of autonomy, the absence of which is detrimental to well-being. Drawing from diverse perspective, we explore the relevance and importance of autonomy to consumers, and identify open research questions in this domain.