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The mitigating role of holistic thinking on choice overload

Ilgim Dara Benoit (Department of Marketing, Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA)
Elizabeth G. Miller (Department of Marketing, Isenberg School, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to demonstrate how and why holistic thinking mitigates the negative impact of large assortments on satisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach

Five between-subject experiments demonstrate the mitigating role of holism on choice overload across a variety of contexts.

Findings

While large assortments create overload feeling, holistic thinking mitigates the negative impact of overload feeling on satisfaction for both chronic (Studies 1a and 1b) and decision-specific (Studies 1b and 1c) holistic thinkers, as well as those who adopt a more holistic thinking style because of the decision goal (Study 2) or incidental priming (Study 3).

Research limitations/implications

This paper introduces a new moderator of choice overload effects – holistic thinking – and shows how it mitigates the negative indirect effect of assortment size on satisfaction. This paper contributes to the literature on assortment size effects and shows that even when assortment size increases overload feeling, this negative impact of assortment size can still be reduced.

Practical implications

Marketers with large assortments can reduce the negative impact of overload feeling and increase satisfaction by promoting the hedonic features of the products and encouraging holistic thinking. Similarly, consumers can reduce the negative impact of overload feeling by approaching their consumption more holistically either because of their individual traits or situational factors.

Originality/value

This research contributes a new moderator to the choice overload literature: holistic thinking. In doing so, it adopts a broader consideration of the decision-making process underlying overload effects and pinpoints how (i.e. by which path) holistic thinking mitigates the negative impact of large assortments.

Keywords

Citation

Benoit, I.D. and Miller, E.G. (2017), "The mitigating role of holistic thinking on choice overload", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 181-190. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-07-2016-1889

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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