Understanding Cognitive Dissonance and Information Sources in Home Furniture Purchases
Ford, Toni-Rochelle S.
The present research seeks to increase understanding of cognitive dissonance by exploring the various information sources that may influence the negative feelings that may arise during post-purchase evaluation. Specifically, the author focuses on the impact of consumer opinion seeking, traditional media search, internet search and social media search on cognitive dissonance by employing two studies. In Study 1, depth interviews are collected and analyzed in an effort to gain more insight into the search process and consumers perceptions of the helpfulness and credibility of different information sources. Categories of information sources, categories of which sources were deemed most helpful or credible, and categories of post-purchase evaluations as they relate to cognitive dissonance are drawn from the interviews. Conclusions are drawn from this analysis and a proposed model is provided informed by the emergent categories. The development of hypotheses is also discussed. Study 2 explores the impact of credibility of sources within social media on online furniture purchase decisions. A survey is developed to empirically examine the relationships represented in the model. A pretest is conducted with a sample of 207 respondents. The results of the pretest are used to make changes to the survey instrument for the main study. The main study is conducted using three samples of participants that gained information from one of three sources of information: 1) friends and family member, 2) retailer or 3) other individual (“others”) the participant does not know personally. The findings from the main study indicate that trustworthiness of the source positively impacts consumers’ perceptions of source credibility. Moreover, the results from each of the three samples also provide evidence that cognitive dissonance is less likely to occur when consumers have a positive attitude toward source of information. These findings are especially relevant for retailers as they should develop strategies to enhance trust among their customers in order to increase perceived credibility. In the same vein, retailers should focus on crafting approaches that foster favorable customer attitudes in order to reduce the occurrence of cognitive dissonance. Additional results of the main study are presented along with managerial implications and ideas for future research.