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How and Why 1 Year Differs from 365 Days: A Conversational Logic Analysis of Inferences from the Granularity of Quantitative Expressions

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Zhang, Y., and Norbert Schwarz. 2012. "How and Why 1 Year Differs from 365 Days: A Conversational Logic Analysis of Inferences from the Granularity of Quantitative Expressions." Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2): 248-259.

The same quantity can be expressed at different levels of granularity, for example, "1 year," "12 months," or "365 days." Consumers attend to the granularity chosen by a communicator and draw pragmatic inferences that influence judgment and choice. They consider estimates expressed in finer granularity more precise and have more confidence in their accuracy (studies 1-4). This effect is eliminated when consumers doubt that the communicator complies with Gricean norms of cooperative conversational conduct (studies 2-3). Based on their pragmatic inferences, consumers perceive products as more likely to deliver on their promises when the promise is described in fine-grained rather than coarse terms and choose accordingly (study 4). These findings highlight the role of pragmatic inferences in consumer judgment and have important implications for the design of marketing communications.

DOI:10.1086/662612 (Full Text)

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