An exploratory study of consumer psychology using the process descriptive approach: a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Information chunking under Brand Name and the ability to predict attribute preference were investigated, using a simple paired comparisons test with an expected value decision criteria, and a behavioural search process. Subjects in condition one were presented with eight different product attributes (including Brand and Manufacturer's Name), while subjects in condition two were given only six different attributes (Brand and
Manufacturer's Name were unavailable).
Both groups completed a simple paired comparison test and two weeks later each subject was allowed to
select product information, item by item, from an information displayboard corresponding to the experimental group to which they belonged. Evidence for the chunking of information under the guise of the Brand Name attribute was found - more information was sought when Brand Name was available than when it was not. It was also found that Brand Name information was accessed more than any other type of product information, and when this information was not available, attribute preferences changed and Cents/gram information was accessed most. This caused a change in product selection. Subjects were found to adopt a satisficing approach to the information search task, accessing only a small subset of the total available information, and only a subset of the attributes presented to them. The simple paired comparison test with its expected-value decision criteria accurately predicted the order of attribute selection in the behavioural search. The results suggest the existence of choice heuristics for consumer decision making as outlined by the information processing approach to consumer psychology.