I Know What You're Doing and Why You're Doing It

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21 I Know What You’re Doing and Why You’re Doing It The Use of the Persuasion Knowledge Model in Consumer Research Margaret C. Campbell University of Colorado at Boulder

Amna Kirmani Southern Methodist University

A consumer is shopping for a suit for an upcoming job interview. When he tries on one suit, a salesperson mentions how good it looks on him. What does the consumer think of the salesperson? A teenager is eagerly watching American Idol and notices a can of Coke on the judge’s table. What is the teenager’s response toward Coke? A shopper on a Web site sees that the default option on the computer system she is putting together is the most expensive option. Is she more or less likely to choose the default? The answers to these questions depend on the extent to which consumers activate and use their persuasion knowledge, i.e., theories and beliefs about how marketers try to influence them. The extent that a consumer imputes an ulterior persuasion motive to the salesperson’s comment, the product placement, or the default option, is likely to affect the consumer’s response. If these tactics are considered inappropriate, unfair, or manipulative, the consumer is likely to respond by discounting the salesperson’s comments, reducing his or her attitude toward Coke, and steering away from the default option. Hence, an understanding of marketplace interactions is often dependent upon understanding the consumer’s use of knowledge about marketplace persuasion. However, the role of consumers’ persuasion knowledge and the interaction of consumer and marketing agent within a persuasion episode have received direct research attention only in the last few years. The impetus for research on persuasion knowledge was Peter Wright’s 1985 ACR Presidential Address, which introduced the concept of “schemer schema” to capture the idea that consumers have knowledge about persuasion that they sometimes use in interpreting marketers’ persuasion attempts (Wright, 1986). Wright argued that consumer researchers were more focused on the persuasion agent than the persuasion target, and that our role as consumer researchers suggested that we should focus on the consumer, i.e., the target of persuasion. Focusing on the consumer and, particularly, on consumers’ knowledge about persuasion, could provide greater insight into how consumers interpret and respond to marketers’ persuasion attempts. 549

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These ideas were formalized into the Persuasion Knowledge Model or PKM (Friestad & Wright, 1994). Drawing from work on persuasion schemata (Rule, Bisanz, & Kohn, 1985), the PKM proposes that consumers develop knowledge about persuasion and others’ persuasion attempts and delineates how people develop and use this knowledge. The PKM significantly contributes to the fields of consumer behavior and marketing by focusing on the central role that consumers’ knowledge about persuasion plays in persuasion episodes. The PKM (see Figure 21.1) depicts consumers as bringing three types of knowledge to a persuasion interaction: topic knowledge, agent knowledge, and persuasion knowledge. These three types of knowledge interact to influence consumers’ persuasion “coping” behaviors, i.e., their personal responses to a persuasion attempt. On the other side, persuasion agents also have topic, target, and persuasion knowledge that interact to influence

Figure 21.1

Reproduced from Friestad and Wright (1994)

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their persuasion attempts. Together, the consumer target’s persuasion coping behaviors and the marketing agent’s persuasion attempts comprise a persuasion episode. The PKM points out that consumers’ persuasion knowledge is critical to how consumers respond to marketing efforts and can be used in a variety of ways to help consumers to achieve their own goals within the situation. In this chapter we provide an overview of the status of current research related to persuasion knowledge and the Persuasion Knowledge Model. Friestad and Wright (1994) provide a detailed discussion and delineation of the PKM itself as well as an excellent review of related research published prior to their article. Thus, the focus of this chapter is on persuasion-knowledge-related research generated since the publication of the Persuasion Knowledge Model. Our hope is to create a sense of where we have come since 1994 in terms of understanding important issues of consumers’ persuasion knowledge and identifying gaps or opportunities in our understanding of the PKM. The chapter outlines directions for a future research agenda to further develop understanding of the PKM, consumers’ persuasion knowledge, and its role in consumer behavior and marketplace interactions. A basic thesis is that research thus far has captured only a small portion of the potential of the PKM. The extant research primarily focuses on persuasion knowledge (as opposed to other aspects of the PKM). The research on persuasion knowledge spans a variety of contexts, including advertising, sponsorship, interpersonal persuasion, cause-related marketing, retailing and decision-making. However, this research is only the tip of the iceberg. Much more remains to be done within the framework of the PKM, both in terms of other components of the model and in terms of furthering development of the model itself. Therefore, in the final section of the chapter, we offer some prescriptions for future research. The rest of the chapter is organized as follows. We first discuss research on the three target knowledge structures proposed by the PKM. This is followed by a discussion of the content of persuasion knowledge, antecedents to the use of persuasion knowledge, consequences of persuasion knowledge, and target-agent interplay. We then consider research on the development of persuasion knowledge. We conclude by presenting research that addresses issues of measurement of persuasion knowledge. We conclude with prescriptions for future research. THREE TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE The PKM proposes that there are three types of knowledge—specifically, persuasion, agent, and topic—that influence responses and outcomes to persuasion attempts. Consumers’ persuasion knowledge includes beliefs about marketers’ motives, strategies, and tactics; causality in persuasion; the effects of persuasion tactics; appropriateness of tactic use; psychological mediators of persuasion; and strategies to respond to others’ influence attempts. Thus, persuasion knowledge includes implicit theories about the persuasion context, as well as causal inferences drawn about motives (Kardes et al., chapter 6, this volume). After discussing agent and topic knowledge, we describe the content of persuasion knowledge in more detail in the next section. Agent knowledge includes beliefs about the “traits, competencies, and goals of the persuasion agent” (Friestad & Wright, 1994, p. 3). Agent knowledge can include general knowledge or schemas about marketing agents, such as salespeople, companies, or brands. For example, a consumer could have a general stereotype about salespeople (e.g., Sujan, Bettman, & Sujan, 1986) or a general belief about brands, e.g., well-known brands provide better products. Agent knowledge could also include knowledge about a specific salesperson, company, or brand. For instance, a consumer who sees the same salesperson every time he visits Nordstrom is likely to have specific agent knowledge. This might include impressions about the agent’s credibility, product knowledge, likeability,

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or dependability. A variety of research streams explore the role of agent knowledge. For example, the literature on source effects gives insight into some ways that agent knowledge affects consumer behavior (e.g., Dholakia & Sternthal, 1977). Likewise, research on brand or company familiarity can be applied to agent knowledge (Campbell & Keller, 2003). Perhaps because of these literatures, thus far little PKM-inspired research specifically focuses on agent knowledge. Topic knowledge refers to the consumer’s knowledge about the topic, or content, of the persuasion attempt. Thus, product or issue expertise would be part of topic knowledge, with experts displaying higher topic knowledge than novices. For example, when the consumer above visits Nordstrom, he is likely to have some knowledge about the product under consideration. If shopping for home accessories, he may have some knowledge about bedding, such as that higher thread counts indicate higher quality sheets. When the consumer interacts with the salesperson, the consumer’s topic knowledge is likely to be accessed in the interaction. Research from streams other than PKM emphasizes the important role of topic knowledge in consumer behavior (see, for example, Alba & Hutchinson, 1987, 2000). However, much of this work looks at the role of expertise for product acceptance (e.g., Moreau, Lehmann, & Markman, 2001), less examines topic knowledge in terms of persuasion. Thus, there is an opportunity for research that examines the role that topic knowledge plays directly within persuasion episodes. The line between persuasion, agent, and topic knowledge is sometimes blurred, suggesting that they are not as independent as depicted in the PKM. For example, if a consumer in a marketplace interaction infers the persuasion agent’s motive or goals, is the consumer drawing upon persuasion, agent or both types of knowledge? If the consumer interprets a car salesperson’s statement that the car of interest has been selling quickly as a persuasion tactic, is this because the consumer has agent knowledge that car salespeople use this tactic to increase consumer interest or persuasion knowledge that allows understanding of persuasion tactics? Similarly, does the consumer who knows a good deal about how promotions work have high persuasion knowledge or topic knowledge? There are two approaches to dealing with these unclear lines. The first is that rather than trying to create artificial distinctions between these three types of knowledge, the knowledge structures be viewed as partially overlapping. The overlap between persuasion and agent knowledge consists of persuasion-related beliefs about the traits and goals of marketing agents. Similarly, the overlap between persuasion and topic knowledge contains persuasion-related topic information. Aside from these overlaps, persuasion, topic and agent knowledge also have independent (nonoverlapping) components. The second approach, which we follow, is to use the terms to definitionally delineate and specify independent, nonoverlapping, types of knowledge. Thus, persuasion knowledge is defined as all knowledge related to persuasion, including persuasion-related knowledge of an agent or topic. Agent knowledge includes all non-persuasion-related knowledge having to do with characteristics of the agent. Likewise, topic knowledge includes all non-persuasion-related knowledge about the topic or content of the persuasion attempt. Thus, the terms are defined as separable constructs. The advantage of this approach is that it allows for distinctions and enables research to more clearly focus on each type of knowledge, as well as on interactions among levels of the three types of knowledge. Consumers’ persuasion knowledge is proposed to interact with their (nonpersuasion) agent knowledge and topic knowledge to shape persuasion interactions and influence the consumer’s responses to persuasion attempts. For example, imagine Frank is shopping for a new car and goes to the closest Audi dealership. Frank likes cars and occasionally buys Car and Driver magazine. He has read some background information and seen ads from which he has gained some topic knowledge about the Audi A4. He has bought cars before and certainly knows the societal ste-

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reotype of car dealers; thus, Frank has some agent knowledge about car salespeople in general. His wife purchased a car from the same dealer the previous year, so Frank even has some specific agent knowledge about Audi salespeople, including the person helping him at this time. Based on a combination of societal information and past experience, Frank also has some persuasion knowledge about the strategies and tactics the car salesperson (this particular one or car salespeople in general) may use to persuade him to purchase the Audi A4 Wagon. All of these types of knowledge may be brought to bear upon Frank’s interactions at the dealership. To date, most research that builds upon the PKM has focused on persuasion knowledge. Only a few studies have examined the interactions among the three different knowledge structures; for instance, Brown and Krishna (2004) show that the effects of topic knowledge are influenced by persuasion knowledge. They distinguish between persuasion knowledge and topic knowledge (note that they call these “marketplace metacognition” and “category expertise,” respectively) and explore differences in the effects of topic knowledge on response to default levels, depending on the level of persuasion knowledge. They found no effect of topic knowledge (product category expert vs. novice) when there was low persuasion knowledge, but an effect of topic knowledge when persuasion knowledge was high. Specifically, for people with high levels of persuasion knowledge, novices responded more favorably to low default options, whereas experts responded more favorably to high default options (Brown & Krishna, 2004). In a second example of exploration of interactions between knowledge types, Ahluwalia and Burnkrant (2004) show that persuasion knowledge interacts with agent knowledge to affect message persuasion. Using the PKM, they hypothesized that when rhetorical questions become salient, consumers may focus on why the persuasion agent is using a rhetorical. Consumers may use existing agent knowledge, specifically, attitudes toward the agent, to interpret the use of rhetorical questions in advertising. When individuals have high persuasion knowledge, positive prior attitudes toward the agent enhance message persuasion, while negative prior attitudes toward the agent diminish message persuasion. However, low PK individuals are not sensitive to the source of the rhetorical questions. Thus, for high PK individuals, prior attitude toward the source determines whether the rhetorical is interpreted positively or negatively, but low PK individuals do not use their agent knowledge in their responses to rhetorical questions. Similarly, Hardesty, Carlson, and Bearden (2002) find an interaction between skepticism (persuasion knowledge) and brand familiarity (agent knowledge) in the context of reference price advertising. These papers indicate the value in considering persuasion, agent, and topic knowledge as three different structures. The results support the interaction of different knowledge structures as proposed by the PKM and demonstrate the need for further research in this area. It is clear that there are many questions remaining about these three types of knowledge and their inter-relationships. For example, can some generalizations be drawn about when persuasion knowledge will be used more than (or instead of) agent or topic knowledge? What is required for the use of each and when and why are they likely to interact? THE CONTENT OF PERSUASION KNOWLEDGE Figure 21.2 depicts what research has shown thus far about the content of persuasion knowledge, its antecedents, and its consequences. In this section, we will examine in detail the research on the content of persuasion knowledge. In the next section we will discuss antecedents, followed by a section on consequences. Friestad and Wright (1994) indicate that persuasion knowledge involves beliefs about motives, tactics, appropriateness of motives and tactics, and how persuasion works. Most research on

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Cognitive Resources

Accessibility of Motive

Activation of Persuasion Knowledge: beliefs about motives, tactics, appropriateness, how persuasion works

Coping behaviors, Response strategies

Persuasion expertise

Figure 21.2

Negative Consequences: judgments, attitudes, choice

Positive Consequences: judgments, attitudes, choice

Antecedents and Consequences of Persuasion Knowledge

persuasion knowledge focuses on one of these categories. That is, the bulk of PKM research focuses on one of these types of persuasion knowledge. Prior to discussing each category, we distinguish between persuasion knowledge and marketplace metacognition. Persuasion Knowledge vs. Marketplace Metacognition Just as “schemer schema” was a precursor to persuasion knowledge, “marketplace metacognition” appears to be a further step in Wright’s (2002) thinking about consumers’ knowledge of the marketplace. Marketplace metacognition is defined as “everyday individuals’ thinking about market-related thinking” (Wright, 2002, p. 677). It includes people’s beliefs about their own mental states and about the states of others, as well as about processes, strategies, and intentions as these relate to the social domain of marketplace interactions. Thus, marketplace metacognition is knowledge and thinking about one’s own knowledge about the marketplace and interactions between market players. Is marketplace metacognition just another term for persuasion knowledge or is it a different construct? Persuasion knowledge focuses on knowledge and beliefs about how persuasion “works,” how people persuade, and how to effectively respond to persuasion. Persuasion knowledge may be either a chronic, individual difference variable (Bearden, Hardesty & Rose, 2001) or a situationally induced variable that can be accessed in a variety of persuasion interactions. Persuasion knowledge spans both marketing and nonmarketing persuasion situations. For instance, a consumer may have knowledge about how a marketer is likely to persuade a consumer as well as knowledge about how a husband is likely to persuade a wife or how friends persuade each other. Moreover, persuasion knowledge is focused on coping with persuasion and does not necessarily involve the consumer’s thoughts about the non-persuasion-based marketplace. Marketplace metacognition, on the other hand, is somewhat different in terms of topics and agents to which it applies. Marketplace metacognition focuses solely on marketplace agents and includes both persuasion and non-persuasion contexts. Marketplace metacognition centers on consumers’ thinking about their knowledge about procedures, strategies and tactics for marketplace interaction and exchange. While persuasion is clearly one important component of the marketplace, more than persuasion is involved. Marketplace metacognition could include beliefs about

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the meaning of prices and price changes, reactions to different distribution channels, thoughts about a product and product attributes, and so forth. In short, persuasion knowledge and marketplace metacognition clearly overlap in terms of consumers’ beliefs about own and others’ strategies and intentions about marketplace persuasion. However, they have distinct components as well. This chapter will primarily address issues of consumers’ knowledge about persuasion in the marketplace, that is, topics that fall in the overlap between persuasion knowledge and marketplace metacognition. Consistent with the PKM, we will use the term “persuasion knowledge” to refer to consumers’ thoughts and beliefs about marketplace persuasion, reserving the term “marketplace metacognition” for consumers thinking about their marketplace-related thinking. Consideration of Motives Beliefs about marketers’ motives are a centerpiece of persuasion knowledge. In fact, a consumer’s consideration of a marketer’s motives can be measured as an indicator of whether persuasion knowledge has been activated. Following research on suspicion in the person perception literature (e.g., Fein, 1996), Campbell and Kirmani (2000) suggested that use of persuasion knowledge can involve consideration of whether persuasion agents have ulterior motives. In other words, in order to use persuasion knowledge within a particular interaction, the consumer must recognize the potential for persuasion. This entails consideration of whether there is a persuasion motive, as opposed to some nonpersuasion motive, behind the action(s) to which the consumer is responding. If the consumer does not think about the possibility of persuasion, she does not use persuasion knowledge. If the consumer infers that there is no persuasion motive, she is likely to curtail use of persuasion knowledge because it does not usefully apply to the situation (although some other knowledge structure may be used). If the consumer infers that there is a persuasion motive, she is likely to continue to use persuasion knowledge in coping with the interaction. Thus far, a large proportion of research that directly relates to persuasion knowledge focuses on inferences of motive as an indicator of a consumer’s use of persuasion knowledge. Acknowledging that consumers will not always draw inferences about the motives and/or trustworthiness of a source and, in fact, consumers often assume that a source is cooperative (cf., Schwarz, 1994), this research has examined factors that influence such inference making. Research has shown that suspicion1 of firms’ motives may be raised by a variety of marketing stimuli, including flattery (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000), the use of rhetorical questions (Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004), incongruent placement of brands in television shows (Russell, 2002), advocacy advertising (Menon & Kahn, 2003), cause-related marketing (Szykman, Bloom, & Blazing, 2004), negative ad comparisons (Jain & Posavac, 2004), partially comparative pricing (Barone, Manning, & Miniard, 2004), biased sources (Williams, Fitzsimons, & Block, 2004), and expensive default options (Brown & Krishna, 2004). The presence of these tactics is likely to trigger persuasion knowledge by making consumers consider the marketer’s ulterior motives. In turn, use of persuasion knowledge is seen to lead to negative evaluations of marketers and/or marketing agents. This will be discussed further in the section on consequences. In short, research strongly supports consideration of persuasion motive as a critical type of persuasion knowledge use. Consumers appear to make positive or negative attributions about marketers’ motives in different situations, and these attributions affect how they respond to the marketer’s actions. However, consideration of motives is not the only demonstration of persuasion knowledge activation. As discussed next, persuasion knowledge is also activated when consumers consider the marketer’s behavior as a persuasion tactic.

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Beliefs about Tactics and How Persuasion Works An important component of persuasion knowledge is knowledge or beliefs that a person holds about others’ persuasion tactics. It makes sense that consumers think about the methods that marketers have for achieving their marketplace persuasion goals. In order for a marketer’s behavior (e.g., advertising approach, promotional reward, product positioning) to be thought of as a tactic, i.e., a means for achieving a goal, as opposed to merely an action, there must be a “change of meaning” (Friestad & Wright, 1994). A change of meaning occurs when a consumer conceives of an action that previously was not assigned any particular meaning as being a tactic used to persuade the target. The notion that an action is a tactic is based on the idea that the action can give rise to some psychological reaction that is believed to create persuasion. That is, belief in an action as a persuasion tactic rests on the consumer’s lay theory about how persuasion occurs, or at the very least, the consumer’s theory of how marketers believe that persuasion occurs. Once an action is identified as a tactic, in addition to considering the effectiveness of the tactic, consumers may begin to think about the appropriateness of the marketer’s motive and specific tactic use. There is some research that addresses each of these, namely, consumers’ beliefs about tactics, consumers’ theories of causality in persuasion, change of meaning, and appropriateness of tactics and motives. Beliefs about Tactics. Some research has directly explored beliefs that consumers have about marketing tactics. While the majority of studies in this area provide respondents with a list of tactics and ask them to indicate what they believe is the goal of each tactic, there are a few studies that examine consumers’ own identification of persuasion tactics. Tactics that respondents have identified on their own include: borrowed interest appeals, i.e., an advertiser’s use of something for which the audience has inherent interest, e.g., a cute puppy or sexy woman (Campbell, 1995); amount of money spent on advertising (Kirmani, 1997); advertising repetition (Campbell & Keller, 2003; Kirmani, 1997); context effect of the other alternatives presented with an item (Hamilton, 2003); intention questions (Williams et al., 2004); rhetoricals (Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004); and guilt appeals (Cotte, Coulter, & Moore, 2005). Research indicates that consumers sometimes recognize, think about, and respond to these actions as persuasion tactics. Beliefs about How Persuasion Works. The idea that an action is a persuasion tactic must rest on some type of conceptualization of how persuasion occurs. Researchers have uncovered some consumer beliefs about causality in persuasion. Bousch, Friestad, and Rose. (1994) examined adolescents’ beliefs about why advertisers use particular tactics. This research shows that adolescents’ have theories about advertisers’ intentions and how persuasion works and that these theories become more similar to those of adults as adolescents get older. Examination of adult consumers’ beliefs about the psychology of advertising persuasion reveals that adults likewise have ideas about how advertising tactics affect persuasion (Friestad & Wright 1995). Friestad and Wright collected data on consumers’ beliefs about the various roles 13 different psychological events play in advertising persuasion. Consumers believe that psychological events are important to the persuasion process and believe that different events have different roles. Importantly, there is evidence of folk knowledge about advertising persuasion based on shared beliefs about the roles that different psychological events play in persuasion (Friestad & Wright, 1995). Consumers have ideas about the difficulty of eliciting a variety of psychological events (e.g., attention, feeling emotion, connecting, etc.), as well as of the importance of these psychological events to advertising effectiveness. Change of Meaning. Surprisingly little research has examined change of meaning, i.e., the transformation of a consumer’s understanding of a particular action as a persuasion tactic. It is important to note, however, that there is some evidence that consumers can be “taught” that an action is a tactic. In other words, a change of meaning in which an action becomes understood as a tactic

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can occur because of external influence. Providing information on marketers’ actions as tactics and/or their appropriate usage can help consumers think of the action as a persuasion tactic. After being exposed to this information, respondents are more likely to respond to the marketers’ actions as persuasion tactics, becoming more resistant and thus, exhibiting less change in response to the actions than when they are not exposed to the information on the tactical nature and effects of the marketers’ actions (Sagarin, Cialdini, Rice, & Serna 2002; Williams, Fitzsimons, & Bloch 2004). For example, by providing some respondents with an article describing the mere-measurement effect, Williams et al. (2004) elicited a change of meaning such that those respondents exposed to the article responded to an intention question from a biased source as if it were a persuasion tactic, whereas respondents who did not see the article, did not. While there is evidence that change of meaning can be externally prompted, there is less understanding about the internal process by which changes of meaning “naturally” occur. There are a variety of questions that still need answers. For example, what is the process by which change of meaning occurs? What factors influence the process? When is a change of meaning likely to arise? Are there developmental stages at which changes of meaning are more or less likely to occur? Are there aspects of marketplace actions that make it more or less likely that a consumer will experience a change of meaning, identifying the actions as persuasion tactics? How does a consumer respond at the time that he or she first comes to believe that an action is a persuasion tactic? Examination of the process by which consumers begin to identify marketplace actions as persuasion tactics is necessary to develop better understanding of how consumers respond within the marketplace and factors that affect likely responses. Beliefs about Appropriateness. Once a consumer is using persuasion knowledge to consider a marketer’s actions, she may begin to think about the appropriateness of the marketer’s motives and tactics. Appropriateness differs from effectiveness in that appropriateness has to do with the consumer’s belief that it is right or wrong to use the tactic, regardless of whether the tactic works. Evaluations of appropriateness are quite important to consumer exchange because consumers sometimes respond negatively to “punish” what they perceive to be inappropriate behavior. Consideration of motive and/or tactic appropriateness can be elicited by borrowed interest advertising appeals (Campbell, 1995), negative framing (Shiv, Edell, & Payne, 1997); negative comparative advertising (Jain & Posavac, 2004), pricing practices (Campbell, 1999); and guilt appeals (Cotte et al., 2005). There are undoubtedly other important marketplace variables that could likewise be perceived as inappropriate. A consumer’s perception that a marketer’s persuasion attempt is inappropriate can result in inferences of manipulative intent (Campbell, 1995; Cotte et al., 2005), perceived unfairness (Campbell, 1999; Shiv et al., 1997) and negative attitudes (Jain & Posavac, 2004). While all of these negative outcomes are important, recently there has been strong interest in perceptions of (un)fairness, particularly price (un)fairness, so much so that perceptions of price (un)fairness are a topic of exploration in their own right. Campbell (1999) drew from both the economic and the persuasion knowledge literatures, showing that consumers make inferences about the firm’s motive for changing a price and that the inferred motive influences perceptions of (un)fairness above and beyond the influence of the firm’s profits. Since this research, a variety of factors have been found to give rise to perceptions of unfairness, including several that appear to be based in consumers’ persuasion, agent, and topic knowledge. For instance, attributions about the salesperson (Vaidyanathan & Aggarwal, 2003), comparisons to what other consumers receive (Feinberg, Krishna, & Zhang, 2002), the source of the price change information (Campbell, 2005), and external reference prices and consumer skepticism (Hardesty et al., 2002) all can influence consumer perceptions of price fairness.

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The research discussed above finds instances when consumers perceive particular marketer motives and tactics to be inappropriate. Warlop and Alba (2004) suggested that consumers would perceive the blatant copying of market leaders’ trade dress to be inappropriate. However, while respondents’ unfavorable responses to national or high-priced brands that copied the marketer leaders’ trade dress indicated some perceived inappropriateness, respondents did not penalize follower brands (store or low-priced brands) for blatantly copying market leaders’ trade dress. These results suggest that consumers may believe that there are conditions under which visual similarity is an acceptable, rather than deceptive or inappropriate, persuasion tactic. Important questions remain as to when consumers are likely to judge tactic use as appropriate versus inappropriate. Summary Persuasion knowledge consists of a variety of components, including consideration of motives, beliefs about tactics, appropriateness of tactics, and how persuasion works. While research provides preliminary insight into each of these areas, there are still unaddressed questions that remain to be researched. Some research covers each of these areas, however, the largest amount of research has focused on consideration of motives. Many other aspects and components of persuasion knowledge can add richness to our understanding of consumers’ interactions with marketers. ANTECEDENTS TO THE USE OF PERSUASION KNOWLEDGE A more complete development of the PKM requires understanding of when consumers are more or less likely to use their persuasion knowledge. That is, in any given persuasion episode, how likely is it that a consumer will access and utilize personal knowledge about persuasion? What factors influence the use of persuasion knowledge? Although the PKM discusses some possible issues surrounding use of persuasion knowledge, it does not delineate conditions that evoke or suppress persuasion knowledge. Recent research has identified three antecedents of persuasion knowledge: cognitive resources, accessibility of motives, and persuasion expertise. Cognitive Resources Friestad and Wright (1994) state that persuasion knowledge “is a resource to which people must have immediate access during any interaction in which the need may arise to recognize and manage, or to construct and deliver, a persuasion attempt. In short, for consumers it is a necessary resource in virtually all interactions with marketers” (p. 3). Thus, one reasonable proposition is that persuasion knowledge can be fairly automatically applied to any interaction in which persuasion may play a role. However, a plausible alternative hypothesis is that persuasion knowledge is not accessed automatically, and instead may require more effortful, higher-order processing. For example, tactic-related cognitions appear to be more effortful than claims-related cognitions, such that tactic-related cognitions have greater influence when processing resources are unconstrained (Shiv et al., 1997). In fact, Campbell and Kirmani (2000) proposed that activation and use of persuasion knowledge requires cognitive resources. In a series of studies of interpersonal persuasion between a salesperson and a consumer, they conceptualized activation of persuasion knowledge as consideration of ulterior motives. They suggested that cognitive resources were necessary to use persuasion knowledge because inferences of motives require higher order, attributional thinking. Using multiple manipulations of cognitive resources, the research demonstrated that consumers are less likely to use persuasion knowledge within a marketplace interaction when processing resources are constrained than when resources are unconstrained.

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The determining role of cognitive resources in the use of persuasion knowledge was replicated in research on the mere measurement effect (Williams et al., 2004). Using a blink counting distraction task to manipulate cognitive capacity, this research showed that consumers were less likely to use persuasion knowledge to interpret a marketer’s intention question when cognitive capacity was constrained and more likely when capacity was unconstrained. Consistent with the flexible correction model (Wegener & Petty, 1997), when consumers had sufficient capacity, they used persuasion knowledge to consider whether a source of an intention question was biased. When the source was perceived as biased, respondents used their persuasion knowledge to correct for the effect of an intention question on their behavior. However, when cognitive capacity was constrained, correction of the mere measurement effect did not occur (Williams et al.). In short, cognitive capacity appears to be an important antecedent of persuasion knowledge use. Accessibility of Motives In addition to the critical role of cognitive capacity, accessibility of persuasion motives is an important antecedent for the use of persuasion knowledge. Research shows that consumers are more likely to use persuasion knowledge within a persuasion episode when ulterior motives are highly accessible, but unlikely to use persuasion knowledge when ulterior motives are less accessible (Brown & Krishna, 2004; Campbell & Kirmani, 2000). Accessibility of ulterior motives may be increased with information about the status of the firm’s business (Brown & Krishna, 2004), priming of motives or tactics (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000; Morales, 2005), blatancy of persuasion tactics (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000), agent knowledge (e.g., priors about car salespeople), and consumer goals. Accessibility of motives has been shown to interact with cognitive resources to affect use of persuasion knowledge (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000). High accessibility may make consumers likely to use persuasion knowledge even when cognitive resources are low. For instance, cognitively busy targets may be able to see through blatant persuasion tactics, such as ingratiation, because of high levels of motive accessibility. Persuasion Expertise The third antecedent of use of persuasion knowledge that has thus far been identified is the individual’s persuasion expertise. Whereas persuasion knowledge has often been conceptualized as a situational variable (i.e., activated when cognitive resources or accessibility of motives are high), it could also be a chronic, individual difference variable. Differential experience with persuasion might lead individuals to have higher or lower levels of persuasion expertise. As noted above, Friestad and Wright (1994) suggested that experience would be important for the development of persuasion knowledge. In support of this, research has found that older adults (over 30 years of age), who typically have more persuasion experience, demonstrate more sophisticated use of persuasion knowledge than younger adults (Kirmani & Campbell, 2004). Experience is likely to lead to individual differences in the quantity and content of persuasion knowledge. The notion of an individual difference in the use of persuasion knowledge led to the development of an individual difference scale that measures persuasion knowledge as a subcomponent of consumer self-confidence (Bearden et al., 2001). This scale has been used to divide people into high and low PKs, with clear behavioral differences between the two groups (Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004; Brown & Krishna, 2004). Thus, research shows that persuasion knowledge may be situationally or chronically activated. More research into both situational and individual differences in use of persuasion knowledge is needed at this time.

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Summary Several studies have explored when consumers are more or less likely to utilize persuasion knowledge within a particular persuasion episode. Cognitive capacity, motive accessibility, and persuasion expertise all influence the extent to which persuasion knowledge is used. Overall, consumers are more likely to use persuasion knowledge when they have high motivation, ability and opportunity to elaborate about marketers’ intentions. This fits nicely with other theories of consumer behavior. At this time, research opportunities exist to identify and explore additional factors that increase or suppress the use of persuasion knowledge. It is highly likely that there are other, unexplored antecedents of persuasion knowledge use. For instance, since consumers are goal-directed (Friestad & Wright, 1994), a consumer’s goals are likely to influence the extent to which s/he activates persuasion knowledge. Consumers may have persuasion-related goals, such as not succumbing to persuasion or getting the best deal, which might increase the likelihood of using persuasion knowledge. The effect of goals on persuasion knowledge is largely unexplored. Likewise, it would be useful to identify factors that are antecedents to the combined use of persuasion knowledge with either topic or agent knowledge. CONSEQUENCES OF PERSUASION KNOWLEDGE ACTIVATION What are the outcomes of the use of persuasion knowledge and where do they appear in the PKM? One important type of outcome of persuasion knowledge use is persuasion coping behaviors, which refers to the target’s “cognitive and physical actions” before, during, and after a persuasion episode (Friestad & Wright, 1994, p. 3). Other, more “terminal” outcomes are beliefs, attitudes, and choices. The PKM depicts the persuasion episode as the combination of the target’s coping responses with the part of the marketing agent’s persuasion attempt that the consumer is able to observe directly. Following the model, the consequences of persuasion knowledge activation and use would thus appear to be found in the persuasion episode (see Figure 21.1). Several types of consequences of persuasion knowledge have been studied empirically, including consumers’ coping behaviors and response strategies, beliefs, attitudes, and choices. Since the persuasion episode is the overlap of the marketer’s persuasion attempts and the target’s coping responses, there will be back-and-forth give-and-take among the coping responses and other outcomes. That is, we expect that the consumer’s use of persuasion knowledge will allow him or her to consider the marketer’s motives and tactics. The consumer is likely to form beliefs about what the marketer is doing and then engage in some response. The marketer is likely to also engage in further behaviors, which may change the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes, etc. Thus, while coping behaviors and response strategies can be thought of as precursors to more “terminal” outcomes of beliefs, attitudes, and choices, it is clear that persuasion response and outcomes involve a recursive process and that all are outcomes of the use of persuasion knowledge. We first address coping responses that result from the use of persuasion knowledge and then outcomes of beliefs, attitudes and choices. While the majority of research has found that activation of persuasion knowledge leads to negative outcomes in terms of persuasion, research does find positive consequences of persuasion knowledge usage. Thus, we discuss negative and positive outcomes in turn. Target Coping Response Behaviors Persuasion coping behaviors arise when the consumer target’s topic, persuasion, and agent knowledge come together in interpreting and responding to the marketer. As noted above, persuasion coping behaviors are consequences of persuasion knowledge activation as well as antecedents to

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the “terminal” outcomes of attitudes, choices, etc. The PKM proposes that consumers’ coping responses are central to their marketplace behavior (Friestad & Wright 1994). Thus, it is surprising that thus far, little research has directly examined responses strategies that consumers use to cope with marketplace influence. One exception to this uses both qualitative and experimental methodologies to explore and identify strategies that consumers use to respond to marketers (Kirmani & Campbell 2004). This research identified 15 strategies by which consumers respond to persuasion attempts and conditions under which the strategies are used. Importantly, the research revealed that consumers have two general modes of response: consumers act as “persuasion sentries,” guarding against unwanted persuasion, and they also act as “goal seekers,” using persuasion agents to achieve their own marketplace goals (Kirmani & Campbell). Whereas persuasion sentries exhibit negative response strategies (e.g., resistance, withdrawal to avoid persuasion), goal seekers exhibit positive response strategies (e.g., directing the agent to best fulfi ll the consumer’s needs, establishing a relationship with the agent to get better deals). Although some of the resistance-related strategies have been considered in work in psychology on resistance to persuasion (e.g., Knowles & Linn 2004), the positive response strategies follow uniquely from the PKM perspective. The findings support the proposition of the PKM that consumers strive to achieve their own goals within marketplace interactions. At this time, it would be beneficial to further understand consumers’ response strategies and, importantly, conditions and moderators that affect their use. Negative Consequences of Persuasion Knowledge Activation Most of the work that draws upon the PKM proposes and finds negative persuasion outcomes arising from the consumer’s use of persuasion knowledge. In particular, research on suspicion of ulterior motives finds that when consumers infer that a marketer’s action is driven by a self-serving ulterior motive, there is greater resistance to persuasion. For instance, the use of persuasion knowledge has been shown to lead to less favorable perceptions of a sales agent’s sincerity (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000), less favorable perceptions of corporate social responsibility (Menon & Kahn, 2003), less favorable attitudes toward the brand or firm (Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004; Campbell, 1995; Forehand & Grier, 2003; Jain & Posavac, 2004; Russell, 2002), higher perceptions of unfairness (Campbell, 1999; Hardesty, Carlson, & Bearden, 2002), increased skepticism, even in the face of honest claims (Koslow, 2000), lower willingness to pay (Morales, 2005), lower purchase intention (Barone, Manning, & Miniard, 2004), and lower choice (Brown & Krishna, 2004; Williams et al., 2004) relative to when persuasion knowledge is not used. It is likely that many outcomes of the use of persuasion knowledge are negative because of reactance that arises in response to believing that someone else is trying to persuade, and thereby control, the self (e.g., Brehm, 1966). Because of this, the majority of research to date has examined negative reactions. However, the outcomes of persuasion knowledge use do not have to be negative. As noted earlier, consumers often assume that communicators are cooperative, rather than competitive (e.g., Schwarz, 1994). Consumers may use their knowledge to achieve their own goals; goal attainment will not always involve resisting marketers’ persuasion. A few studies demonstrate situations in which people do not display reactance when they know that an ulterior motive is present. Examining context effects in decision-making, Hamilton (2003) finds that people intuitively understand how to use context effects to influence others’ decisions, e.g., by creating a choice environment that will lead others’ to select a particular outcome. Despite this knowledge, however, people are still influenced by others’ menu creation even when they realize that the other person has an ulterior motive (Hamilton, 2003). That is, even though the respondent appears to consider the persuader’s

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ulterior motive, the respondent in positively influenced by the persuasion attempt. In this case, we do not see a negative persuasion outcome. Recent research specifically examines when suspicion of a self-serving motive does and does not lead to negative consumer response (Forehand & Grier, 2003). This suggests that consumer inference of self-serving ulterior motive gives rise to negative responses to marketplace persuasion only when there is a consumer perception of firm deception or dishonesty about the firm’s motives. When a firm only states that it is engaging in cause-related marketing in order to help others, but the situation suggests to consumers that the cause-related behavior will also help the firm, consumers are seen to respond more negatively. However, when the firm expresses that the cause-related marketing will help others and help themselves, consumers do not appear to respond negatively to the firm (Forehand & Grier, 2003). This research suggests that in some cases, consumers have sophisticated, conditionally based concepts of persuasion appropriateness that influence important responses to persuasion. Positive Consequences of Persuasion Knowledge Activation Thus far, we have shown that persuasion knowledge use can lead either to negative outcomes or does not affect outcomes. Can persuasion knowledge activation lead to positive outcomes, such that people respond more positively to the marketer who is trying to persuade them? There is little research that shows positive outcomes of persuasion knowledge. An exception is Kirmani and Campbell (2004), who investigated consumers’ response strategies when interacting with interpersonal marketing agents (e.g., salespeople and service personnel). As discussed above, this research shows that consumers have both negative, persuasion-sentry response strategies, and positive, goal-seeker strategies. Consumers do not merely react against marketers, they use persuasion coping behaviors to both positively and negatively respond to marketers in order to attain their own goals. An important aspect of this research is that the fi ndings demonstrate that consumer use of persuasion knowledge does not necessarily result in negative responses to marketing agents. Persuasion knowledge may also lead to positive outcomes when consumers are able to understand firms’ incentives, such as the incentive to signal product quality. Thus, consumers may attribute higher product quality to firms that exert greater effort in advertising (Kirmani, 1997) and offer more extensive warranties (Boulding & Kirmani, 1993). In order for this type of attribution to occur, consumers need to believe that firms that spend more on advertising or offer higher warranties could not do so if the quality of the product was so bad that these expenditures could not be recouped by a large number of sales. This type of persuasion knowledge can lead to positive firm evaluations. Summary There is nothing within the Persuasion Knowledge Model that suggests that persuasion knowledge will always result in less positive outcomes for the persuasion agent than when persuasion knowledge is not used. However, much more research depicts negative than positive consequences of the use of persuasion knowledge. Clearly, the activation of persuasion knowledge may make consumers suspicious, leading to less favorable marketer perceptions, and thus allowing consumers to avoid being persuaded unnecessarily. However, consumers may also use persuasion knowledge to more positively achieve their goals. More research is needed into conditions under which the use of persuasion knowledge may lead to positive outcomes. Future research will contribute to a more

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complete theory of persuasion by examining positive, as well as negative effects of consumer use of persuasion knowledge and by developing a more nuanced understanding of the components, interplay, and processes involved within the persuasion episode. TARGET AND AGENT INTERPLAY Examination of Figure 21.1 shows that the PKM is a general model about how targets and agents interact (Friestad & Wright 1994). As we have discussed, targets use multiple types of knowledge to develop, select, and use persuasion coping behaviors. Agents similarly use persuasion, topic, and target knowledge in the development, selection, and use of persuasion attempts. As noted earlier, one of the real contributions of the PKM was its emphasis on the active role of the target. Because of this, by far the majority of PKM-related research focuses on better understanding the target. However, it is also important to understand the agent in terms of the agent’s knowledge about the target, beliefs about the target’s knowledge, and interactions with the target. A more complete development of the PKM will include research on the back-and-forth interplay between the target and agent. In other words, what do targets know about agents, what do targets believe that agents know about targets, and so on? For instance, Moreau et al. (2001) examine both consumer knowledge about promotion actions and manufacturer and retailer beliefs about consumers’ perceptions of promotions. That is, they study consumer topic and persuasion knowledge as well as marketing agent target knowledge. On the consumer side, their data show that consumers think both about what types of promotional activities occur in the grocery retail environment, and also about why marketers choose these actions. Overall, it appears that consumers not only have some ideas about how and why products are promoted, but that their knowledge is fairly accurate. On the marketer side, the data on the manufacturers’ and retailers’ beliefs about consumers’ thoughts about promotions show that these channel members’ beliefs about consumers’ beliefs are similar to each other. Interesting, both the manufacturers and the retailers consistently underestimate consumers’ understanding of promotions, although they both are reasonably accurate at predicting consumers’ beliefs about marketers’ motivations for promotions. In sum, the concurrent examination of target and agent knowledge reveals that, in this context, consumers have some fairly accurate persuasion knowledge but that marketers’ target knowledge is surprisingly inaccurate. Another stream of research, stemming from game theory, examines whether consumers understand the signals that firms are trying to send. Analytic information economics models assume a give and take between the agent and the target; specifically, firms send signals of quality and expect consumers to interpret these signals as intended. Correct interpretation of signals requires consumers’ understanding of firms’ incentives and the conditions under which the signals might be true or false. This research is interested in the sophistication of consumers’ beliefs about why marketers engage in particular marketplace behaviors and how these beliefs affect their responses. Thus, the firm (agent) sends a signal to the consumer (target), the target receives the signal and assesses its veracity, and the target responds accordingly. This requires the firm to know what consumers know about firms and for consumers to know what makes firms act in certain ways. In most of the behavioral studies testing information economics predictions, consumers’ firmrelated attributions have been inferred from the firm’s marketplace decisions (Kirmani, 1990; Kirmani & Wright, 1989; Boulding & Kirmani, 1993). For instance, in Boulding and Kirmani, consumers inferred high product quality when a company with a high reputation offered a high warranty, but not when a low reputation company offered a high warranty. This suggests that consumers believe that the high reputation company has more at stake, since it is putting its reputation

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on the line. In contrast, the low reputation company may be fly-by-night, never intending to honor the warranty. This outcome suggests fairly sophisticated reasoning on the part of consumers. However, there appear to be some limitations on how far consumers go in terms of thinking about firms’ incentives. In a study on consumers’ understanding of collusion on price-matching guarantees (PMGs), consumers failed to suspect collusion in price-matching offers, suggesting that they are not as sophisticated in their reasoning about firms’ motives as information economics assumes (Chatterjee, Heath, & Basuroy, 2003). Even consumers with more cognitive resources (e.g., those with high need for cognition) did not suspect collusion. Overall, this suggests the need for research on how much consumers can spontaneously infer from marketing actions, and how much might be the function of other variables in the situation, such as accessibility of motives. In general, we need to know more about motives that consumers infer on the basis of marketers’ actions. Summary The research identified in this section represents one step toward understanding the interplay of the marketer’s target and persuasion knowledge and the knowledge of the target about the agent and persuasion. However, there are many questions about these interactions that have not been examined. It will be important for future research to continue to delve into marketer and consumer “schemer schemas” to develop more complete knowledge about the balance and interaction between consumers and marketers. DEVELOPMENT OF PERSUASION KNOWLEDGE One of the important issues raised by the PKM is how persuasion knowledge develops. It is important to understand the extent to which children have persuasion knowledge, when and how individuals develop persuasion knowledge, as well as how, or whether, this knowledge continues to develop during a consumer’s life span. Friestad & Wright (1994) propose that development of persuasion knowledge is contingent upon: (1) cognitive skills, (2) experience, and (3) vicarious learning (e.g., from other consumers, friends and family, educational environments, media discussion, etc.). Some earlier research shows that young children do not have a real concept of persuasive intent, but that understanding of persuasive intent begins to develop by age 8 (e.g., Robertson & Rossiter, 1974; Ward, 1972; see Roedder, 1999 for a review). However, only a few pieces of research have directly examined the development of persuasion knowledge past this age. Younger children (e.g., second graders, 7–8 years old) show less sophisticated processing of advertising and product experience than do older (fift h grade, 10–11 years old) children (Moore & Lutz, 2000). A longitudinal study examined how children in U.S. middle school (grades 6–8, typically ages 11–14) think about television advertising and advertisers’ tactics (Boush et al., 1994). This study shows that knowledge about advertisers’ tactics increases over the studied time period. This also provides some evidence that distrust of advertising claims also increases. Overall, this research contributes support for the notion that persuasion knowledge is developmentally contingent and that understanding of persuasion tactics continues to develop past the understanding of persuasive intent that develops in the first 8 years of childhood. Kirmani and Campbell (2004) add to understanding of the development of persuasion knowledge by examining adult consumers of a variety of ages. This research followed up on the PKM notion that experience with certain types of marketplace persuasion is less likely to occur until young adults begin making a wide range of purchase decisions. Examination of strategies adults

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use in response to interpersonal persuasion by marketers indicates that the number and quality of response strategies used increases with age. Younger adult consumers (in their early 20s) tended to use fewer response strategies, and to use them less successfully, than did middle adult consumers, between 30 and 60 years of age. Interestingly, elderly adult consumers (over 65), who might have the greatest experience with persuasion, were likely to use fewer response strategies than middle adults, suggesting that response strategy usage is at its highest in middle adulthood. More research on elderly consumers’ use of persuasion strategies is needed to understand this result. Overall, this research shows that middle adults have better developed persuasion knowledge than younger adults, indicating that persuasion knowledge continues to develop in adulthood. Another piece of research following the PKM framework examined adult consumers’ beliefs about advertising tactics and how advertising persuasion works (Friestad & Wright, 1995). Interestingly, the beliefs of adult consumers were compared to those of consumer researchers. There were both similarities and differences between consumers’ and researchers’ beliefs about advertising effects. In general, consumers’ and researchers’ views were similar about topics that have been studied for some time (e.g., understanding and attitudes) but dissimilar about topics that are currently under study (e.g., imagining, remembering and emotion). While this research does not directly examine the development of persuasion knowledge, the similarities and differences between adult consumers and researchers suggests: (1) that understanding of persuasion and tactics can continue to develop in adulthood, and (2) that consumers may learn from the media and others’ experiences. Summary Overall, there is some support for the propositions of the PKM about development of persuasion knowledge. A great deal of research demonstrates that understanding of persuasive intent is contingent upon the development of cognitive skills during early childhood (by 8 years). However, there is still debate—and room for research—about the underlying cause of the skill development (e.g., neurological, experiential, or structural). Less research examines the other two propositions, that is, that persuasion knowledge development is driven by experience and vicarious learning. The existing research provides some support for these, but future research should continue to examine the development of persuasion knowledge throughout later childhood and different stages of adulthood and the roles that experience and vicarious learning play in persuasion knowledge development. In particular, additional research on the extent to which children, young adults, and older adults can be taught to identify and successfully respond to marketplace persuasion will be helpful to consumers, educators, and public policy. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSUASION KNOWLEDGE An important issue in research on persuasion knowledge is how to determine whether persuasion knowledge has been activated. Given that persuasion knowledge is multidimensional and covers a variety of beliefs and behaviors, there is no single method of measuring persuasion knowledge or persuasion knowledge activation. Instead, researchers have come up with their own measures, and these measures depend on which component of persuasion knowledge is being considered. We focus on studies that directly measure persuasion knowledge rather than those in which activation of persuasion knowledge is inferred from outcomes (e.g., Chatterjee et al., 2003; Warlop & Alba, 2004). Direct measures of assessing persuasion knowledge include ratings, cognitive responses, depth interviews, individual difference measures, and response times.

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Ratings Perhaps the most common method is to ask respondents about their persuasion-related beliefs through written questionnaires (e.g., Friestad & Wright, 2005; Bousch et al., 1994). For instance, Friestad and Wright asked respondents to rate different psychological mediators (e.g., attention) on multiple dimensions, such as difficulty of eliciting and awareness. Ratings have also been used to assess consumers’ beliefs about how others are trying to influence them. Respondents have been asked to rate whether a marketer has a specific motive (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000) or manipulative intent (Campbell, 1995; Williams et al., 2004); to rate companies on dimensions such as dishonest, manipulative (Jain & Posavac, 2004), and collusive (Chatterjee et al., 2003); and to assess how much others had tried to influence them (Hamilton, 2003). Ratings are appropriate to measure beliefs that consumers are aware of and can clearly articulate. They may not be a good measure of persuasion effects that consumers are unaware of as well as beliefs about what influences consumers, since consumers may not have a good sense of what influences them. Ratings have the disadvantage of reactivity, i.e., the rating itself may make salient a particular construct. Cognitive Responses Another common method of measuring persuasion knowledge activation is to code open-ended responses, either to specific questions (e.g., why is the advertiser using this tactic?) or general cognitive responses (please write down the thoughts that went through your head). Because it minimizes reactivity, this technique has been particularly useful in uncovering suspicion (Barone et al., 2004; Campbell & Kirmani, 2000) and ulterior motives (Forehand & Grier, 2003; Szykman, Bloom, & Blazing, 2004). Cognitive responses must be used cautiously to make sure they capture persuasion knowledge rather than simply non-persuasion related counterarguments. Finally, cognitive responses capture only those beliefs that consumers are aware of and can articulate. Unconscious beliefs will not be captured by either cognitive responses or ratings. Depth Interviews Relatively little research has used qualitative research methods in efforts to measure use or content of persuasion knowledge, even though such methods seem particularly appropriate for capturing some aspects of persuasion knowledge. The research that has used depth interviews has successfully identified response tactics and coping strategies. For instance, Kirmani and Campbell (2004) conducted depth interviews to develop a taxonomy of tactics used by consumers to respond to interpersonal persuasion attempts by marketing agents (e.g., salespeople, service agents). Trocchia (2004) also used depth interviews to reveal consumers’ coping strategies in an auto-buying context. Depth interviews may be a good way to uncover beliefs and behaviors of which consumers may not be consciously aware. Further exploration of ethnographic methods for understanding persuasion and agent knowledge may be quite useful. Response Times Response latencies have been used as an indirect measure of persuasion knowledge activation. Williams et al. (2004) asked respondents to indicate whether a word was good or bad by pressing different computer keys. Speed of response to the words “suspicious,” “manipulate,” and “coerce”

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were measures of persuasion knowledge. These words were interspersed with seven other words. Such techniques should be further used. Response times have the advantage of being nonreactive and being able to uncover unconscious beliefs and automatic processes. Individual difference variables Whereas the previous measures assess persuasion knowledge activation in specific situations, two scales have been developed that may be used to capture individual differences in persuasion knowledge. Bearden et al. (2001) developed a six-item individual difference measure of persuasion knowledge (PK) as part of a broader scale of consumer self-confidence. The PK scale assesses consumers’ confidence in their knowledge of marketing persuasion tactics and of their ability to cope with marketers’ tactics. It contains the following items: I know when an offer is “too good to be true”; I can tell when an offer has strings attached; I have no trouble understanding the bargaining tactics used by salespersons; I know when a marketer is pressuring me to buy; I can see through sales gimmicks used to get consumers to buy; I can separate fact from fantasy in advertising. The PK scale has been used as a moderator to divide individuals into those with high and low persuasion knowledge and to demonstrate that behavior differs across the two levels (Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004; Brown & Krishna, 2004). Another individual difference scale that is related to persuasion knowledge is the advertising skepticism scale (SKEP; Obermiller & Spangenberg, 1998). The nine-item scale measures consumers’ general disbelief about advertising claims, and could be considered a part of persuasion knowledge. Although the SKEP scale is likely to be related to the PK scale, they do measure different constructs. Whereas SKEP covers general distrust of advertising, the PK scale assesses knowledge about persuasion tactics. Although persuasion knowledge includes many different aspects, these scales each focus on one particular domain of persuasion knowledge. They may not capture consumers’ sensitivity to ulterior motives, suspicion, or appropriateness of tactics. For instance, there may be some opportunity to develop a scale that captures the ability to infer ulterior motives, or the ability to assess the effectiveness of different tactics, and so on. Summary Different dimensions of persuasion knowledge have been measured using rating scales, cognitive responses, depth interviews, response times, and individual difference scales. An area for future research is the use of implicit measures of persuasion knowledge. These are likely to be beneficial in capturing automatic activation of persuasion knowledge and to capture nonconscious processes. Ultimately, the method must suit the inquiry, and the best approach may be to use multiple methods to capture persuasion knowledge and its use. A PRESCRIPTION FOR THE FUTURE One of the themes of this chapter has been that persuasion knowledge is multidimensional and contains many different components, such as beliefs about motives, tactics, and appropriateness of tactics. Another theme has been that persuasion knowledge is but one component of the PKM. Thus, there are opportunities to conduct research on a variety of topics related to persuasion knowledge and the PKM. As researchers continue to build upon the PKM, it will be important to draw carefully from existing research. For example, it is important to resist the temptation to

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spawn new terminology; researchers should carefully consider whether an existing term captures the construct of interest before suggesting a new one. If a new one is necessary, it is essential that differences between related constructs are delineated. Carefully defined terms will help to not only improve understanding, but they will also enable research in this domain to make a clearer and stronger contribution to the persuasion literature. Some general guidelines for future research in the exciting domain of the PKM are offered below. First, we need more theoretical research about persuasion knowledge and the PKM. Most of the empirical work applies the PKM to a particular context, such as advertising, pricing or promotions. We often learn more about the substantive domain than we do about persuasion knowledge per se. There is little research that pushes theory development. Thus, we see the opportunity to conduct more theoretical research on the antecedents of persuasion knowledge; the interaction of persuasion, target and agent knowledge; the interplay between target and agent; and the consequences of persuasion knowledge. Research that enables a richer depiction of Figure 21.2 would be useful in enhancing our understanding about persuasion knowledge. Likewise, it is important to build our knowledge of when persuasion knowledge is a mediator and when it is a moderator of effects. Second, there is virtually no research on the emotional consequences of persuasion knowledge usage. Although the PKM is a model about knowledge rather than emotions, the activation of persuasion, agent and even topic knowledge is also likely to affect emotions. The only paper that we found that directly examines emotions in the context of the PKM is Morales (2005); her research shows that when firms are perceived as having an ulterior motive, consumers do not feel gratitude toward the firm. There are many other intriguing questions about persuasion knowledge and affect. Besides the obvious negative emotions that may arise from being the recipient of a persuasion attempt, can the use of persuasion knowledge make people happy? For instance, a consumer may feel elation if he is able to successfully achieve his goals in dealing with a car salespeople. Successful negotiation of a persuasion attempt may lead to feelings of self-efficacy and thus happiness. Third, there is little research on cross cultural persuasion knowledge. How does knowledge about persuasion differ across cultures? Do people have more sophisticated persuasion knowledge in bargaining cultures, such as those in the Middle East and Asia? Or is it just a different type of persuasion knowledge in other cultures? It is possible that the persuasion knowledge of people in collective cultures would be different from that of people in individualistic cultures? As one possibility, collective or interdependent cultures may rely more on cooperative relationship building than do individual or independent cultures. In summary, the study of the PKM is only a decade old. The fairly large amount of research that has been generated following aspects of the PKM speaks to the importance of this model. Particularly, we see the contribution that the idea of the consumer as an active, knowledgeable, participant in marketplace persuasion interactions has made to furthering understanding of aspects of consumer behavior. As we have shown in this chapter, researchers have begun to get a sense of what persuasion knowledge is, what precedes it, what follows it, how it develops and how it is measured. However, much more needs to be done in order to enhance our understanding of consumers’ beliefs about marketplace persuasion and how these beliefs affect consumers’ responses to persuasion attempts. It is time for research to not only further develop our understanding of persuasion knowledge, but to go beyond persuasion knowledge. It is essential that we continue to identify specific implicit theories that consumers have about marketplace persuasion. At this time, research is needed to more completely develop the entire Persuasion Knowledge Model and use this to gain better understanding of consumers’ implicit theories about marketplace persuasion.

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NOTES 1. Note that suspicion and skepticism have sometimes been used interchangeably and sometimes to refer

to different constructs; we follow the latter convention. Suspicion is defined in terms of a psychological state in which the consumer considers whether the agent has an ulterior motive. Skepticism is a dispositional or state doubt in the truthfulness of various forms of marketing communication and the marketer’s motives (e.g., Forehand & Grier 2003).

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