Factors Affecting Encoding, Retrieval, and Alignment of Sensory Attributes in a Memory-Based Brand Choice Task

Stewart Shapiro*, Mark T. Spence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Sensory attributes, such as sound quality ascertained by listening to a stereo, are often ambiguous and therefore difficult to encode and retrieve. Despite this, consumers often place more weight on these attributes compared to verbally described market information when making brand choice decisions. Results from two studies demonstrate that providing criteria to evaluate the sound quality of competing brands of stereos facilitates the encoding, retrieval, and alignment of the sensory attribute in a brand choice task. Study 1 shows that without criteria to evaluate sound quality during trial, memory for this attribute is poor. Further, perceptions of sound quality assimilate to conflicting market Information, which adversely affects decision performance. The reverse is true when evaluative criteria and a scheme to rate the criteria are provided: memory for sound quality improves, perceptions of sound quality contrast with conflicting market Information, more weight is placed on sound quality when decision making, and better choices are made. Study 2 shows that providing evaluative criteria during product trial enhances performance through improvement in the encoding process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-617
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes


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