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Years, Months, and Days versus 1, 12, and 365: The Influence of Units versus Numbers

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  • Ashwani Monga
  • Rajesh Bagchi
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    Abstract

    Quantitative changes may be conveyed to consumers using small units (e.g., change in delivery time from 7 to 21 days) or large units (1–3 weeks). Numerosity research suggests that changes are magnified by small (vs. large) units because a change from 7 to 21 (vs. 1–3) seems larger. We introduce a reverse effect that we term unitosity: changes are magnified by large (vs. small) units because a change of weeks (vs. days) seems larger. We show that numerosity reverses to unitosity when relative salience shifts from numbers to units (study 1). Then, arguing that numbers (units) represent a low-level (high-level) construal of quantities, we show this reversal when mind-set shifts from concrete to abstract (studies 2–4). These results emerge for several quantities—height of buildings, time of maturity of financial instruments, weight of nutrients, and length of tables—and have significant implications for theory and practice.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 185 - 198

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:doi:10.1086/662039

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. C. Lembregts & M. Pandelaere, 2012. "Are All Units Created Equal?: The Effect of Default Units on Product Evaluations," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration 12/812, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    2. Ali Besharat & Daniel Ladik & François Carrillat, 2014. "Are maximizers blind to the future? When today’s best does not make for a better tomorrow," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 77-91, March.

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