Enjoy! A dual-process examination of product-pleasure associations and preferences.

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Consumers hold preferences at both implicit (automatic) and explicit (controlled) levels of cognition. Theorists posit that specific associations (e.g., pleasure, utility, etc.) are important for preferences, yet this has not been examined at the implicit level. The present research examined implicit and explicit pleasure associations and links with implicit and explicit preferences. It was hypothesized that implicit pleasure would be uniquely important for both explicit and implicit preferences but that the strength of these links varies across products and situations. In Study 1, 616 participants completed measures of pleasure and preferences across three products. Implicit pleasure was uniquely predictive of both implicit and explicit preference; the strength of links did vary across products but only partly in support of hypotheses. Further, results suggested an additive model. In Study 2, 401 participants were induced to think about a product (mouthwash) as either hedonic or utilitarian; as expected, implicit pleasure uniquely predicted explicit preference, but only when individuals were not overtly thinking about pleasure. In Study 3, 408 participants completed implicit and explicit measures after reading about a store that sold either health or hedonic food. Activating food-health associations caused individuals’ implicit preferences to shift away from ice cream and toward vegetables. However, contrary to predictions, this did not appear to result from a weakening of the relationships between pleasure/health and preference. Supplementary analyses across studies also demonstrated that implicit pleasure and preference are distinct but related constructs that suggest that dual-process links between attributes (such as pleasure) and preferences are best understood as additive in most contexts.

Implicit cognition. Consumer psychology.