Stony Brook College of Business Innovation Center News

Rebecca Reczek: "Learning about the Self through Advertising: The Effect of Behaviorally Targeted Advertising on Consumer Self-Perceptions and Behavior"

“Behavioral targeting” is an Internet-based advertising strategy that uses a consumer’s online actions to tailor digital ads for

that person. Using three experimental studies, the authors demonstrate that behavioral targeting is so successful, in part, because it changes consumers’ beliefs about themselves. In other words, it can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the consumer desires the advertised product because they believe the targeting algorithm’s conclusion that they are the type of person who would enjoy the product. These self-perceptions not only affect purchase intentions for the advertised product but for other actions related to the trait learned from the behaviorally-targeted ad. For example, receiving a targeted ad for a sustainable product can lead consumers to believe that they are more “green,” increasing their likelihood of donating to an environmental charity. The authors find that whether such learning about the self from behaviorally-targeted ads occurs depends on both the consumers’ awareness that the ad is targeted to them and their liking of targeted ads.

Kelly Haws: "Vice-Virtue Bundles"

We introduce a simple solution to help people manage choices between healthy and unhealthy food options: vice-virtue bundles. Vice-virtue bundles are item aggregates with varying proportions of both vice and virtue, holding overall quantity constant. Five studies compare choice and perceptions of differently composed vice-virtue bundles relative to one another and to pure vice and pure virtue options. Results suggest that people prefer vice-virtue bundles with small (1⁄4) to medium (1⁄2) proportions of vice rather than large (3⁄4) proportions of vice. Moreover, people rate vice-virtue bundles with small vice proportions as healthier but equally tasty as bundles with larger vice proportions. Choice patterns are different from those predicted by variety-seeking or compromise accounts. Instead, these findings provide evidence of asymmetric goal balancingthe notion that a relatively small proportion of vice sufficiently addresses a taste goal, whereas a relatively large proportion of virtue is needed to address a health goal.


Mike Norton: Keynote Address

Brent McFerran: "The Dark Side of Marketing Tactics: Scarcity Promotions Induce Aggressive Behavior"

Robin Soster: "Using Sunk Costs to Untether Consumers from Default Actions"

Scarcity promotions emphasize the limited availability (either in quantity or time) of a product, and are commonly used tactics by marketers. Drawing on several lines of research, we propose that such promotions increase feelings of threat (towards others), and more importantly, that aggressive behavior results. In three studies using actual video games, we show that shooting and punching behavior are heightened in response to such promotions. Boundary conditions and policy implications will be discussed.

Consistent with the sunk cost effect, we find that prior investment in pursuing a default action causes people to be overly- committed to the action when an appealing alternative is available. We also find that encouraging people to mentally transfer their sunk costs to the alternative action liberates them to pursue the alternative action, so long as the idea to transfer costs is made by a source without an ulterior motive. These findings inform the sunk cost literature, and provide a path to better choices.

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