Uncovering the Coexistence of Assimilation and Contrast Effects in Hedonic Sequences
Most judgments consumers make are parts of sequences and hence unlikely to be free of context effects. Assimilation (contrast) refers to a positive (negative) relationship between the value people place on the context and the value they place on the target stimulus. A general presupposition for much of the work on assimilation and contrast is that one or the other, determined by various factors, occurs. We propose that assimilation and contrast can co-occur within a sequence of experiences and present a hierarchical Bayesian model separating these effects within a unique real-world data set. We find that while assimilation effects influence overall sequence means, contrast effects are simultaneously evident between adjacent items and after extremes within a sequence. This work is the first empirical demonstration of hedonic contrast using real-world data, and the only work thus far to identify and separate assimilation and contrast effects within the same sequence of evaluations.