ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (5): 625-636.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00625

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    


姚卿1, 陈荣2()   

  1. 1 北京科技大学东凌经济管理学院, 北京 100083
    2 清华大学经济管理学院, 北京 100084
  • 收稿日期:2017-11-21 发布日期:2019-03-20 出版日期:2019-05-25
  • 通讯作者: 陈荣
  • 基金资助:

Quality or price? The effect of stock-out middle option on consumer choices

YAO Qing1, CHEN Rong2()   

  1. 1 Donlinks School of Economics and Management, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Beijing 100083, China
    2 School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • Received:2017-11-21 Online:2019-03-20 Published:2019-05-25
  • Contact: CHEN Rong


基于情境效应和决策冲突理论, 通过三个实验探讨折衷产品选项的不可得如何影响消费者对余下可得产品的偏好。研究结果表明, 折衷商品不可得对余下商品的吸引力呈现非对称性的影响。以质量和价格产品属性的购买情境为例, 中等价格中等质量商品的不可得将显著提升低价格商品的吸引力(实验1), 其原因在于折衷方案不可得显著提高了消费者的决策冲突, 高水平的决策冲突导致决策者偏好具有确定性优势的选项, 规避优势存在模糊性的选项。随着质量属性模糊性的降低(提供专家评价, 实验2; 消费者专业知识较强, 实验3)或提高(质量存在波动范围, 实验2), 折衷商品不可得效应相应减弱或加强。

关键词: 折衷产品选项, 不可获得, 决策冲突, 消费者偏好


Consumers in real world sometimes face situations in which information about unavailable products is still present in the decision contexts. For example, consumers may find that certain options are sold out and thus marked by an out-of-stock stamp in such a way that consumers can still examine their attributes information. Traditional models of consumer choices have assumed that the addition of an unavailable alternative to a choice set has no impact on the shares among the original alternatives. However, recent studies on asymmetrical dominance choice sets suggest that adding an alternative that asymmetrically dominates a targeted alternative and is declared to be unavailable increases preference for the target in the original choice set. Three categories of theories, range-weighting, similarity-substitution and relative-advantage, have been used to explain the phenomenon.
Despite prior research interest in extending attraction effect in unavailability context, little is understood about how unavailable options influence preferences among available options in other choice settings. Dominant literature have advocate for the preference for the compromised option in a three-option set. Thus, it is typical that the unavailable option is the compromised one. The above three explanations all fail to predict the preference on the remaining options in this situation.
We propose that consumers are experiencing increasing decision difficulty or feeling greater conflict deciding in the unavailable compromise set than in the two-option set, and thus are likely to alleviate this negative task-related emotion by engaging in conflict-reducing heuristics. In particular, if choice of the compromise option that is associated with smallest maximum error or likelihood of being criticized is impossible, consumers forced to make difficult trade-offs among extremes are likely to rely more on the unambiguous attribute in the evaluations, because unambiguous outcome is associated with a lower likelihood of criticism. Thus, consumers seek to guarantee (avoid) advantages (disadvantages) of their selected option in precision rather than in ambiguity. Based on findings that attributes in quantitative nature (e.g., price) are easier to trade-off than attributes (e.g., quality) in qualitative nature, we predict that the relative preferences for low-quality, low-price option which has a precise and certain advantage will be stronger in presence than in absence of an unavailable intermediate option.
Study 1 establishes that the addition of an unavailable compromise option into a two-option local set can increase the relative share of the cheaper option. In Study 2, we demonstrate that the degree to which the quality advantage (disadvantage) can be ambiguously evaluated moderates this effect. When the value of quality becomes less ambiguous to evaluate (providing experts’ quality evaluations, Study 2A) or more ambiguous to evaluate (describing product quality by a range of performance, Study 2B), the effect that the cheaper option fares better in the unavailable middle option set attenuates or strengthens. Study 3 further examines the underlying mechanism by testing the moderating effect of consumer product knowledge, and the mediating effect of decision conflict. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and managerial implications.

Key words: compromise option, unavailable, decision conflict, consumer preference