Title page for ETD etd-10252012-161342

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Garity, Carolyn Popp
URN etd-10252012-161342
Title Paradoxes and Consumer Decision Making
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Marketing (Business Administration)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Black, William C. Committee Chair
Burns, Alvin C. Committee Member
Chandler, Timothy David Committee Member
Folse, Judith Anne G. Committee Member
Hinson, Roger A. Dean's Representative
  • consumer paradoxes
  • consumer
  • technology paradox
  • privacy-customization
  • conflicting evaluations
Date of Defense 2012-09-14
Availability unrestricted
Consumers often find themselves faced with conflicting evaluations in which they identify both positive and negative aspects of a purchase or consumption experience. A paradox occurs when the individual is aware of the conflicting evaluations and experiences tension as a result. While there are strong potential implications of paradox, marketing research has been slow to study consumption paradoxes. As a result, many deficiencies exist in the literature, including no consensus as to the definition of consumer paradox, insufficient quantitative measurement, and limited knowledge of the antecedents and consequences of paradox. This dissertation was conducted to address these shortcomings.

Essay one was conducted to develop a basic understanding of consumer paradox and examine the similarities and differences between paradox, ambivalence and mixed emotions. As such, it integrated divergent literature streams and developed a new definition of paradox, distinct from ambivalence and mixed emotions. Furthermore, a hermeneutical interpretive approach was used to interpret in-depth interviews that replicated existing paradox research and identified a new technology paradox.

Essay two was conducted to develop a measurement technique for capturing the presence of paradox in consumption situations. Four pretests and two studies were conducted to develop and test this new measurement technique that captured the two conditions for paradox: the recognition of two opposing, irreconcilable evaluations and the feeling of tension brought about by the opposing evaluations. Additionally, factor analysis was employed to determine the overall structure of the various types of paradoxes.

Essay three was conducted to delineate and test a theoretical framework of consumption paradox. It was the first to empirically test antecedents and outcomes of paradox, and found that antecedents and outcomes exhibited different relationships under different technology paradoxes. The research failed to find any evidence that coping mediates the proposed model.

This research offers contributions by defining paradox as distinct from ambivalence and mixed emotions, developing a comprehensive measurement protocol for assessing paradoxes, and delineating and empirically testing a conceptual framework of paradox. It offers managers insight into the underlying causes of paradox, the associations between paradoxes, and possible strategies to reduce the occurrence of paradox.

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