The Theoretical Antecedents to Communication Primes: A Holistic Perspective with Public Policy Implications
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This research provides a thorough review of the research on priming and marketing (essay 1) as well as empirically explores several unintended consequences of priming (essay 2) and the antecedents to priming effects (essay 3). In essay 1, priming research is reviewed using a classification system based on priming outcome using the ABC model of attitudes (i.e., affective, behavioral, and cognitive priming). The priming process is discussed, and types of priming in each category are reviewed before challenges in the priming process are discussed. In essay 2, non-product-centric (i.e., collateral) primes (e.g., co-branding, sponsorship, cause marketing) are explored. This research explores how collateral information works as a prime to influence product evaluations, specifically with application to cause marketing. Study 1 of essay 2 explores the consumer outcomes of collateral communication primes by showing that adding a health cause to a cookie package (i.e., the prime) significantly increases product health perceptions. Study 2 explores limits on collateral communication priming and finds that health charities on product packaging increase brand attitude and purchase intentions, while disclaimers increase processing and reduce prime effects. Study 3 explores person specific antecedents to collateral communication primes revealing that an individual's theory of mind leads to ad skepticism that, in turn, influences reaction to primes. Essay 3 specifically examines the theoretical framework underlying priming effects by examining priming from two bodies of competing theory rooted in individual and social antecedents to behavior. Study 1 of essay 3 confirms past findings and develops materials to be used in studies 2 and 3 by showing that spokesfigures are marketer-supplied cues that vary in manipulativeness, and these cues interact with other cues, such as complexity and persuasion. Study 2 provides support for individual antecedents to cue-based primes (cognitive abilities, as measured by working memory capacity, and advertising skepticism). Study 3 builds on study 2 by adding in social antecedents (theory of mind and psychological reactance) to develop a comprehensive model of consumer information processing. All together, these three essays explore the literature on priming and marketing and provide a more holistic understanding of the antecedents to priming effects.