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Consumer knowledge discrimination

Kishore Gopalakrishna Pillai (University of Bradford)
Michael Brusco (Department of Business Administration, Florida State University, Tallahassee, United States)
Ronald Goldsmith (College of Business, Florida State University, United States)
Charles Hofacker (College of Business, Florida State University, Tallahassee, United States)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




This paper aims to introduce knowledge discrimination to consumer research. It also examines the antecedent effects of objective knowledge and confidence in knowledge on consumer knowledge discrimination. Research in psychology has sought to distinguish between calibration and discrimination, two related skills in probabilistic judgments. Though consumer research has sought to examine knowledge calibration, the construct of knowledge discrimination has not attracted any attention.


The paper reports on three studies which use a cross-sectional design using a structured questionnaire. The hypotheses are tested using regression. In addition, the paper also reports the results of an experimental study.


The paper finds that the objective knowledge has a positive effect on discrimination. But confidence in knowledge does not have a consistent effect on discrimination. The paper also finds that feedback improves discrimination.

Research limitations/implications

The study adds a new dimension to the examination of metaknowledge and metacognitions in the consumer domain.

Practical implications

The study suggests some ways in which companies/government agencies can improve consumer knowledge discrimination.

Social implications

Knowledge discrimination is expected to reduce consumer vulnerability and enhance consumer competence.


This is the first study to examine knowledge discrimination in the consumer domain. Prior research has observed that there could be a trade-off between calibration and discrimination. Hence, the study of knowledge discrimination can inform the study of knowledge calibration.



The authors thank Gurumurthy Kalyanaram, NMIMS University, and Rajan Nataraajan, Auburn University, for comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this article.


Pillai, K.G., Brusco, M., Goldsmith, R. and Hofacker, C. (2015), "Consumer knowledge discrimination", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 49 No. 1/2, pp. 82-100.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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