Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

How Specific and General Self-Confidence Affect Assortment Decisions

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

How Specific and General Self-Confidence Affect Assortment Decisions

Article excerpt

Nowadays, there is an ongoing trend for retailers to provide a vast number of products to consumers (Lleras, Masatlioglu, Nakajima, & Ozbay, 2017). Manufacturers and retailers cater to their customers by broadening product lines or increasing diversification of products. However, an important question for manufacturers and retailers is whether providing a larger assortment of a product would optimize the benefits and costs of the assortment size for both buyers and sellers. In our study we explored whether people always want a larger assortment from the perspective of the decision maker.

Choosing among assortments of different sizes is the first phase of a hierarchical decision process (Chernev, 2006; Kahn & Lehmann, 1991). A general finding on this phase of the process is that consumers are always attracted to larger assortments (Broniarczyk, Hoyer, & McAlister, 1998; Chernev, Böckenholt, & Goodman, 2015; Iyengar & Lepper, 2000; Scheibehenne, Greifeneder, & Todd, 2010). However, in an emerging stream of research, scholars have identified specific factors to challenge this assumption (Chernev, 2006; Chernev & Hamilton, 2009; Goodman & Malkoc, 2012; Tuan Pham & Chang, 2010). Among this literature, the main focus in studies from the perspective of individual differences has been on the situationally induced state, such as psychological distance, choice justification, or regulatory focus (e.g., Goodman & Malkoc, 2012; Ratner & Kahn, 2002; Tuan Pham & Chang, 2010).

However, individual difference consists of a set of traits and other factors that are specific to a situation or task (Kassarjian, 1971). For instance, self-confidence could be constructed as a situationally induced state-that is, specific selfconfidence-or as a more stable trait-that is, general self-confidence (Hisrich, Dornoff, & Kernan, 1972; Locander & Hermann, 1979; Taylor, 1974). Thus, we wondered whether having confidence in one's self-worth and having confidence in one's ability to select a specific product would both lead to the same assortment preference. We proposed that the theory behind the concepts of specific selfconfidence and of general self-confidence would lead to a significant difference in consumer assortment size preference.

Literature Review and Hypotheses

Specific Self-Confidence, Perceived Difference, and Large Assortment

Specific self-confidence (SSC) refers to individuals' confidence in their ability to perform a specific task (Locander & Hermann, 1979). The domain of SSC is related to task- or context-specific capabilities (Garvey, Germann, & Bolton, 2016; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1979). However, feeling confident when doing one task may not generalize to another task (Krueger & Dickson, 1994). For example, a consumer may have high SSC in selecting wine but low SSC in selecting a car. SSC is also a state and increases as various skills are mastered when learning how to perform a task, gaining experience, and acquiring information (Wood & Bandura, 1989). Additionally, the consequence of SSC is closely related to behavior outcomes (Rosenberg, Schooler, Schoenbach, & Rosenberg, 1995).

As already described, SSC can be reinforced from mastering a skill (Wood & Bandura, 1989). This implies that high SSC leads consumers to infer that they have rich consumption experiences and process information elaborately, which makes them better able to detect subtle distinctions between options (Redden, 2008). In contrast, low SSC leads consumers to slacken their cognitive effort and obstructs their analytical thinking capabilities (Bandura, 1997), which leads to their not processing information elaborately and ignoring the differences among options (Redden, 2008). For example, in general women have higher SSC than do men when selecting lipsticks. Women perceive lipstick colors more distinctively, seeing them as shades of the color red, such as vermilion, carmine, or rose. …

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