When the Future Comes: Essays on Consumer Attitude toward Artificial Products

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This dissertation consists of two essays that investigate how consumers react to artificial products. Specifically, each essay focuses on one type of artificial product: robots and lab-grown meat, respectively. The first essay investigates the interaction effect of personal control and the potential for negative judgment on consumers’ robot preferences. Across five studies, I find that when the consumption context enables the high potential for negative judgment, consumers with low (vs. high) personal control have stronger preferences for service robots because they are less confident in leaving a positive impression on others and thereby experience stronger social anxiety. However, when the consumption context enables the low potential for negative judgment, consumers feel confident in leaving a positive impression on others, so personal control affects neither social anxiety nor robot preference. The second essay studies why consumers resist lab-grown meat and proposes a novel theory to explain it: the life-creation perception theory. Across six studies, I demonstrate that consumers have more negative attitudes toward lab-grown meat than lab-grown dairy products because they associate lab-grown meat (vs. dairy products) with artificially creating life and thereby violating the laws of nature to a greater degree. In addition, theory-based interventions are shown to increase consumer acceptance of lab-grown meat by disassociating lab-grown meat from creating life. Across these two essays, I intend to provide insights into how consumers interact with artificial products in the marketplace and how marketers can increase consumers’ adoption of these innovations accordingly.