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Kovacheva, Aleksandra (2017) LET IT GO? HOW AGENCY AND POWER IMPACT THE CONSUMPTION OF UNCERTAIN PRODUCTS AND GROUP EXPERIENCES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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While most research has focused on the role of personal control and agency in utilitarian decisions (e.g., choice of meals, clothing, grocery items), my dissertation investigates how feelings of control influence the consumption of uncertain products and positive experiences. Using a multi-method approach, I conduct and analyze experimental, field, and company data to investigate the conditions under which consumers’ (desire for) control impacts their purchase decisions and experiences.

In the first essay, I look at how consumers’ desire to maintain control may decrease their preference for uncertain products. I conceptualize “surprise offerings” (products which are revealed to the consumer only if purchased,) and distinguish them from token surprises, studied in past literature. I build and test a theoretical framework that identifies the individual and contextual factors that influence consumers’ preference for surprise offerings. I find that men prefer surprise offerings to a lesser extent than women do, due to men’s unwillingness to relinquish control over the purchase. Several field and lab studies examine boundary effects and suggest ways to increase the appeal of surprise boxes for men. Besides its theoretical contributions, this paper has important implications for e-commerce and more specifically, for the growing business of surprise boxes - online companies that deliver surprise products for a fixed (monthly) fee.

In my second essay, I look at consumers' experiences of social events with asymmetric distribution of effort and control. In contrast to past work, which has assumed roughly equal contribution of each party in a group consumption event, I find that the asymmetric contributions to a joint experience impact the anticipated and experienced outcomes of the experience, thus presenting an interesting case of affective misforecasting. My research examines practical interventions that can increase consumer’s desire to take leadership over an event and to extract greater experienced utility. This work provides insight not only into when and how people choose to participate in group experiences, but also, broadly, into when people choose to share resources with others, thus proposing ways to ensure the sustainability of collaborative systems such as AirBnB, EatWith, MealSharing, and Meetup.

Overall, my dissertation contributes to the literature on personal control, hedonic consumption and experiences, positive uncertainty, and social influence. Further, my work has implications for digital marketing, collaborative consumption, and new product development.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kovacheva, Aleksandraalk153@pitt.edualk153
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairLamberton,
Committee CoChairInman,
Committee MemberWu,
Committee MemberFeick,
Committee MemberNikolova,
Date: 28 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 April 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 25 August 2017
Access Restriction: 4 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 4 years.
Number of Pages: 107
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: uncertainty, control, surprise, enjoyment, joint consumption, asymmetric investment, effort
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2017 15:36
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2021 05:15


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