Select Publications

A Review of Touch Research in Consumer Psychology 

Krishna, Aradhna*, Andrea W. Luangrath*, and Joann Peck* (forthcoming), "A Review of Touch Research in Consumer Psychology," Journal of Consumer Psychology. (*equal authorship)

This article details the theoretical foundation of haptics in consumer research. We structure the review using a continuum from proximal touch-based interactions to increasingly distal interactions through devices, imagery, or language use. We begin with a focus on product/object touch in marketing highlighting touch for haptic information, touch for haptic pleasure, and touch for non-haptic functional reasons. We then elaborate on research considering work compensating for actual touch through various mechanisms including device-mediated touch and imagery processing. Next, we examine interpersonal touch followed by a discussion on touch in sensory words and textual paralanguage. The authors note various avenues for future research in haptics with the aim to encourage research in consumer psychology and marketing. 

Paralanguage Classifier (PARA): An Algorithm for Automatic Coding of Paralinguistic Nonverbal Parts of Speech in Text 

Luangrath, Andrea W., Yixiang Xu, and Tong Wang (2023), "Paralanguage Classifier (PARA): An Algorithm for Automatic Coding of Paralinguistic Nonverbal Parts of Speech in Text," Journal of Marketing Research, 60 (2), 388-408.

Brands and consumers alike have become creators and distributors of digital words, thus generating increasing interest in insights to be gained from text-based content. This work develops an algorithm to identify textual paralanguage, which are nonverbal parts of speech expressed in online communication. The paralanguage classifier (PARA) is developed and validated utilizing social media data from Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram (N = 1,241,489 posts). Based in auditory, tactile, and visual properties of text, this tool detects nonverbal communication cues, aspects of text often neglected by other word-based sentiment lexica. This work is the first to reveal the importance of textual paralanguage as a critical indicator of sentiment valence and intensity. Automatically detected textual paralanguage is further demonstrated to predict consumer engagement over and above existing text analytic tools. The algorithm is designed for researchers, scholars, and practitioners seeking to optimize marketing communications and offers a methodological advancement to quantify the importance of not only what is said verbally, but how it is said nonverbally. 

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A Review and Future Avenues for Psychological Ownership in Consumer Research 

Peck, Joann and Andrea W. Luangrath* (2023), "A Review and Future Avenues for Psychological Ownership in Consumer Research," Consumer Psychology Review, 6 (1), 52-74. *Authors contributed equally

Research on psychological ownership is prevalent in the consumer domain. This article details the theoretical core of psychological ownership, integrating research in consumer psychology and marketing. The underlying motivations behind psychological ownership are also considered as well as the antecedents and consequences of feeling ownership. This article discusses how consumers signal and infer a sense of ownership, acknowledging that the characteristics of the target of ownership vary greatly to include physical targets as well as those that are intangible. Research is discussed on the lifecycle of ownership considering the formation, perception, and eventual dissolution of psychological ownership. The authors note various avenues for future research in psychological ownership with the aim to spur research in consumer psychology and feelings of ownership. 

Marketing Insights from Text Analysis

Berger, Jonah, Grant Packard, Reihane Boghrati, Ming Hsu, Ashlee Humphreys, Andrea W. Luangrath, Sarah Moore, Gideon Nave, Christopher Olivola, and Matthew Rocklage (2022), "Marketing Insights from Text Analysis," Marketing Letters, 33 (2), 1-13.

Language is an integral part of marketing. Consumers share word of mouth, sales- people pitch services, and advertisements try to persuade. Further, small differences in wording can have a big impact. But while it is clear that language is both fre- quent and important, how can we extract insight from this new form of data? This paper provides an introduction to the main approaches to automated textual analysis and how researchers can use them to extract marketing insight. We provide a brief summary of dictionaries, topic modeling, and embeddings, some examples of how each approach can be used, and some advantages and limitations inherent to each method. Further, we outline how these approaches can be used both in empirical analysis of field data as well as experiments. Finally, an appendix provides links to relevant tools and readings to help interested readers learn more. By introducing more researchers to these valuable and accessible tools, we hope to encourage their adoption in a wide variety of areas of research. 

Observing Product Touch: The Vicarious Haptic Effect in Digital Marketing and Virtual Reality

Luangrath, Andrea W., Joann Peck, William Hedgcock, and Yixiang Xu (2022),"Observing Product Touch: The Vicarious Haptic Effect in Digital Marketing and Virtual Reality," Journal of Marketing Research, 59 (2), 306-326.

Retail is rapidly evolving to construct virtual environments for consumers. Online product images, videos, and virtual reality (VR) interfaces enliven consumer experiences and are a source of product information. Since consumers are unable to physically touch products in these digital environments, this research considers vicarious touch, or the observation of a hand in physical contact with a product in a digital environment. Across eight studies, the authors use images, GIFs, and VR to show that vicarious touch affects consumers' psychological ownership and product valuation due to the active nature of product touch which results in a felt sense of body ownership of the virtual hand. This is termed the vicarious haptic effect. Results demonstrate that it is not simply enough to have a hand in an advertisement, the hand must be touching a product. The vicarious haptic effect is strongest for people who become highly stimulated by an immersive VR experience (i.e., measured via the elevation in heart rate). The vicarious haptic effect is attenuated if the viewed interaction does not represent a diagnostic hand movement. The authors discuss theoretical and managerial implications for digital product presentation in order to encourage feelings of product ownership and valuation.

Caring for the Commons: Using Psychological Ownership to Enhance Stewardship Behavior for Public Goods

Peck, Joann, Colleen Kirk, Andrea W. Luangrath, and Suzanne Shu* (2021), "Caring for the Commons: Using Pyschological Ownership to Enhance Consumer Stewardship of Public Goods," Journal of Marketing, 85 (2), 33-49. *All authors contributed equally

How can consumers be encouraged to take better care of public goods? Across four studies, including two experiments in the field and three documenting actual behaviors, the authors demonstrate that increasing consumers' individual psychological ownership facilitates stewardship of public goods. This effect occurs because feelings of ownership increase consumers' perceived responsibility, which then leads to active behavior to care for the good. Evidence from a variety of contexts, including a public lake with kayakers, a state park with skiers, and a public walking path, suggests that increasing psychological ownership enhances both effortful stewardship, such as picking up trash from a lake, and financial stewardship, such as donating money. This work further demonstrates that the relationship between psychological ownership and resulting stewardship behavior is attenuated when there are cues, such as an attendance sign, which diffuse responsibility among many people. This work offers implications for consumers, practitioners, and policy makers with simple interventions that can encourage consumers to be better stewards of public goods.

Counterfactual Thinking and Facial Expressions Among Olympic Medalists

Hedgcock, William M., Andrea W. Luangrath, and Raelyn Webster (2021). "Counterfactual Thinking and Facial Expressions Among Olympic Medalists: A Conceptual Replication of Medvec, Madey, and Gilovich's (1995) Findings." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150 (6), e13-e21. 

Counterfactual thinking, or contemplation of "what could have been," influences facial expressions of Olympic medalists. Medvec, Madey, and Gilovich (1995) revealed that bronze medalists appeared happier than silver medalists after competition in Olympic events. Two prominent explanations for this phenomenon exist: the formation of (a) category-based counterfactuals and (b) expectation-based counterfactuals. First, Medvec et al. (1995) demonstrated that silver medalists formed an upward comparison to the gold medalist with thoughts of "I almost won Gold" while bronze medalists formed a downward comparison to a fourth place finisher with thoughts of "at least I won a medal." A second explanation suggests that medalists form expectation-based counterfactuals in which silver medalists are more disappointed since their prior expectations for performance were higher than bronze medalists (McGraw, Mellers, & Tetlock, 2005). To test these 2 explanations, we compiled a large dataset of medal stand photographs from the Olympic Multimedia Library and Getty Images for the 2000 -2016 Olympic games as well as Sports Illustrated's predictions. Using automated facial expression encoding, we conducted a conceptual replication of prior work and found evidence supporting both category-based and expectation based counterfactual accounts of Olympic medalists' expressions.

Should I Touch the Customer? Rethinking Interpersonal Touch Effects from the Perspective of the Touch Initiator

Luangrath, Andrea W., Joann Peck, and Anders Gustafsson (2020). "Should I touch the customer? Rethinking interpersonal touch effects from the perspective of the touch initiator." Journal of Consumer Research, 47(4), 588-607.

Previous research has highlighted the effects of receiving interpersonal touch on persuasion. In contrast, we examine initiating touch. Individuals instructed to touch engage in egocentric projection in which they project their own affective reaction onto their expectations for how the recipient will feel (i.e., empathic forecast), how they appear to the recipient (i.e., metaperception), and the evaluation of the interaction itself (i.e., interaction awkwardness). Touch initiators expect that recipients will feel worse with touch, express concern for how they, themselves, will be perceived, and think that interactions are more awkward. Interestingly, touch recipients do not evaluate these interactions more negatively and leave higher tips after having been touched; touch initiators do not expect this to be the case. As a result, instructed touch initiators (vs. volitional touch initiators) are less (more) likely to engage in subsequent interactions with customers, potentially undermining future service provided to customers. Across five studies, four of which involve actual dyadic interactions, we test the consequences of initiating touch with an inquiry into the effects of interpersonal touch on the initiator. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications.

Looking Ahead: Future Research in Psychological Ownership

Peck, Joann and Andrea W. Luangrath (2018) "Looking ahead: Future research in psychological ownership." Psychological ownership and consumer behavior (pp. 239-258). Eds. Joann Peck and Suzanne B. Shu, Springer.

While interest in psychological ownership in consumer behavior has been growing, there are many research opportunities remaining. This chapter provides a brief summary of the book chapters and also delineates broad areas for future research. Included are seven sections beginning with the measurement of psychological ownership in consumer research and potential new directions. Next are questions and opportunities related to the characteristics of the owner, and the characteristics of the target, or what is owned. Following this, types of ownership are discussed as well as time dimensions related to psychological ownership. Then, the downstream consequences of psychological ownership are detailed including current work and potential extensions. Finally, the dark side of psychological ownership is acknowledged and situations where feelings of ownership can be counter-productive are delineated. The intention of this chapter is to spark new ideas for further work in psychological ownership and consumer behavior.

Textual Paralanguage and Its Implications for Marketing Communications

Luangrath, Andrea W., Joann Peck, and Victor A. Barger (2017), "Textual Paralanguage and its implications for marketing communications." Journal of Consumer Psychology, 27 (1), 98-107.

Both face-to-face communication and communication in online environments convey information beyond the actual verbal message. In a traditional face-to-face conversation, paralanguage, or the ancillary meaning- and emotion-laden aspects of speech that are not actual verbal prose, gives contextual information that allows interactors to more appropriately understand the message being conveyed. In this paper, we conceptualize textual paralanguage (TPL), which we define as written manifestations of nonverbal audible, tactile, and visual elements that supplement or replace written language and that can be expressed through words, symbols, images, punctuation, demarcations, or any combination of these elements. We develop a typology of textual paralanguage using data from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We present a conceptual framework of antecedents and consequences of brands' use of textual paralanguage. Implications for theory and practice are discussed. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Society for Consumer Psychology.

Individual Differences in Interpersonal Touch: On the Development, Validation, and Use of the "Comfort with Interpersonal Touch" (CIT) Scale 

Webb, Andrea and Joann Peck (2015), "Individual differences in interpersonal touch: On the development, validation, and use of the 'comfort with interpersonal touch' (CIT) scale," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25 (1), 60-77.

This research details the development of the "comfort with interpersonal touch" (CIT) scale designed to measure individual differences in interpersonal touch tendencies and preferences. The CIT construct is defined as the degree to which an individual is comfortable with intentional interpersonal touch from or to another person. The scale incorporates the distinction between initiating touch, which is the act of touching someone else, and receiving touch, which is the act of being touched by someone else. Investigation of this construct includes scale development, measure purification, and validation. We situate CIT-initiating and CIT-receiving within an approach-avoidance framework and demonstrate that comfort with initiating touch is more related to approach tendencies such as assertiveness while comfort with receiving touch is more related to avoidant tendencies such as avoiding crowded spaces. While previous research generally finds positive effects of interpersonal touch, we find that these effects, at least in part, depend on an individual's comfort with interpersonal touch. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications as well as future research opportunities using the CIT scale.

In Search of a Surrogate for Touch: The Effect of Haptic Imagery on Perceived Ownership

Peck, Joann, Victor A. Barger, and Andrea Webb (2013), "In search of a surrogate for touch: The effect of haptic imagery on perceived ownership," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 23 (2), 189-196.

Previous research has shown that individuals value objects more highly if they own them, a finding commonly known as the endowment effect. In fact, simply touching an object can create a perception of ownership that produces the endowment effect. In this paper, we extend this line of research in several ways. First, we show that haptic imagery, or imagining touching an object, can have the same effect on perceived ownership as physical touch. We then demonstrate that haptic imagery can lead to perceptions of physical control, which in turn increase feelings of ownership. Moreover, the more vivid the haptic imagery, the greater the perception of control and the feeling of ownership. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.