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Darren Dahl (Editor in Chief)Eileen FischerGita JoharVicki Morwitz

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How Prevalent Is the Negativity Effect in Consumer Environments?

Rohini Ahluwalia
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/341576 270-279 First published online: 1 September 2002


The negativity effect, or the greater weighing of negative as compared with equally extreme positive information in the formation of overall evaluations, is widely believed by media planners and appears to be a well-proven phenomenon in consumer psychology. Although this effect has been extensively documented under conditions of moderate to high processing involvement in the literature, its robustness in consumer environments may be overstated. Specifically, there are important differences between the experimental settings in which this effect has typically been obtained and marketplace conditions. For instance, subjects in past studies have typically evaluated unknown or hypothetical targets with the goal of forming an accurate impression. In the marketplace, consumers may be familiar with brands and likely to process brand-related information with a variety of other processing goals, such as impression and defense motivation. Using two experiments, this re-inquiry delineates conditions under which the negativity effect is likely to emerge and those under which it may be less likely to occur.

  • Cognitive Processes
  • Involvement
  • Motivation/Desires/Goals
  • Persuasion
  • Experimental Design and Analysis (ANOVA)
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