Empowering Consumers to Engage with Health Decisions: Making Medical Choices Feel Easy Increases Patient Participation

Work with Mary Steffel (Northeastern University) and Nora Williams (Washington University in St. Louis)

Forthcoming at the Journal for the Association for Consumer Research

We investigate whether increasing the subjective ease with which medical information may be processed increases participation in medical decisions. In two experiments, consumers were more likely to participate in medical decisions (versus delegate to a healthcare provider) when information about their options was presented in an easy-to-process format. Participation was driven by consumers’ self-confidence in their own decision-making abilities, rather than confidence or trust in their doctor’s judgment. The effect of fluency was strongest among consumers with inadequate health literacy and persisted regardless of past experience with a particular health condition and even when fluency had no effect on comprehension.

I Can Find It Myself: Advertisement Disclosure in Persuasion Attempts Cause a Threat to Perceived Competence

Work with Laurence Ashworth (Queen's University)

Online search is likely one of the first places consumers look for product information. Not surprisingly, marketers frequently attempt to elevate their own information through sponsored listings. This research investigates how consumers react to such non-organic search content. In one experiment, we investigate whether consumers avoid online search results when disclosed as an “ad”, and whether this disclosure threatens their perceived competence. We identify that persuasive content may threaten consumers’ self-perceived competence specifically, undermining their ability to make a good decision and causing them to opt for another source of information altogether.