Making Each Unit Count: The Role of Discretizing Units in Quantity Expressions
Journal of Consumer Research , Volume accepted
Consumers typically infer greater quantity from larger numbers. For instance, a 500 gram box of chocolates appears heavier than a .5 kilogram box. By expressing quantities in alternative units or attribute dimensions, one can represent an otherwise identical quantity in a more versus less discretized manner (e.g., a box containing 25 chocolates vs. a box weighing 500 grams). Seven experimental studies show that a difference between more discretized quantities (e.g., 25 vs. 50 chocolates) appears larger relative to a difference between less discretized quantities (e.g., 500 grams vs. 1,000 grams), above and beyond effects of number magnitude. More discretized quantity expressions enhance the consumers’ ability to discriminate between choice options and can also nudge consumers to more favorable choices. Because more discretized quantities are more evaluable, expressing a quantity in terms of a collection of elements particularly helps individuals who are less numerically proficient. By identifying how discretization functions as a novel antecedent of evaluability and by distinguishing two different conceptualizations of numerosity (i.e., symbolic and perceptual numerosity), this article draws important connections between the numerical cognition literature and General Evaluability Theory.