Context effects at encoding and judgment in consumption settings: The role of cognitive resources

Joan Meyers-Levy*, Alice M. Tybout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


When consumers learn about a new product, cues in the surrounding context have been found to bias their response to the product in two ways. In some instances, judgments of the product are assimilated toward the affect or descriptive implications associated with the context, whereas in other circumstances, responses are contrasted with or adjusted away from the context. We examine how cognitive resources influence whether assimilation or contrast occurs and when such context effects are reflected in subsequent judgments. Building on a model developed by Martin and his colleagues, we propose that assimilation will occur spontaneously during encoding. Contrast will occur only when this contextual influence is viewed as inappropriate and efforts to partial out the context result in overcorrection. These encoding effects of context should be evident in later judgments when the nature of either the judgment task or consumers' predisposition toward effortful thought encourage retrieval of the contextencoded information. The results of two experiments support our predictions and lead to a modified version of Martin's model. In this model, the cognitive resources available at encoding determine the type of context effect and the cognitive resources at judgment determine whether the encoding effect of context will be reflected in product evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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