Media Highlights from the AMA Journals

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Key Takeaways
  • Many people enjoy wine more if they are told it’s expensive (even if it’s not).
  • Slow breathing may reduce anxiety caused by perceived time crunches.
  • Corporate support for a favorite charity trumps poor customer service.
  • Ads for weight loss drugs may make people gain weight.
  • Shoppers might buy more when a warm scent is in the environment.
  • Sad movies and loud commercials don’t mix (consumers forget the loud commercials).


The AMA Journal Reader

May 2015 | Media Highlights from the AMA Journals​

As scholars and practitioners alike continue to leverage industry research, the AMA’s four scholarly journals have garnered media attention outside of the academic community. The following essay highlights research articles that have received press mentions in publications including TIME, Fast Company, Fortune, The Atlantic and more. 

Read on to learn about the most recent press coverage:

Can Cheap Wine Taste Great? Brain Imaging and Marketing Placebo Effects

When consumers taste inexpensive wine and rate it highly because they believe it is expensive, have their expectations blinded them to the actual taste, or do the expectations created by marketers actually change more basic processes in their brain? 

Recent research has studied whether marketing-based expectancies such as price and brand quality beliefs influence the consumption experience and subsequent behavior, but almost no research has examined individual differences in “marketing placebo effects” (MPE). In this article, the authors suggest three moderators of the effect marketing-based expectancies have on the behavioral and neural measures of the consumption experience based on previous findings from the neuroscientific literature investigating traditional clinical pain placebo effects. The authors also used a novel automated structural brain imaging approach to determine individual differences and combined this approach with traditional behavioral experiments. Consumers high in reward-seeking, high in need for cognition, and low in somatosensory awareness are more responsive to MPE.

Is Your Busy Schedule Affecting Your Health? Time Might Not Be the Problem

The modern schedule is infamously frantic, leaving many of us feeling constantly pressed for time. That feeling may not have much to do with time itself, however.

​Why do consumers often feel pressed for time? Their research provides a novel answer to this question: subjective perceptions of goal conflict. Beyond the number of goals competing for time, perceived conflict between goals makes consumers feel that they have less time. Perceiving greater conflict between goals makes people feel time constrained and that stress and anxiety drive this effect. These effects, which generalize across a variety of goals and types of conflict (both related and unrelated to demands on time), influence how consumers spend time as well as how much they are willing to pay to save time. Two simple interventions can help consumers mitigate goal conflict's negative effects: slow breathing and anxiety reappraisal. Together, the findings shed light on the factors that drive how consumers perceive, spend, and value their time. 

Does Corporate Social Responsibility Reduce Negative Reviews for Bad Service? 

When a company’s service falls short of expectations, consumers can react harshly by spreading negative comments or changing companies. Consumers practice surprising forgiveness when the underserving company also happens to support a favorite charity.

Does corporate social responsibility (CSR) reduce negative and promote positive responses to service failures among value-aligned customers? Customers are less likely to experience anger and spread negative word of mouth following a service failure when a firm engages in high levels of environmental CSR, but only if customers are high in environmental concern. The authors also explore the benefits of CSR policies that target a broader range of beneficiaries versus policies that offer customers a choice over the firm's CSR allocations. Compared with a no-CSR policy, CSR with choice has a stronger effect on customer emotions and intentions by enhancing perceived value alignment, reducing anger and regret over choosing the firm, and increasing guilt over harming the firm. These emotions subsequently reduce negative word of mouth and increase positive word of mouth and repurchase intentions. The results support the benefits of value-aligned and choice-based CSR policies in the wake of service failures. 

They Have a Pill for That: How Are Weight Loss Drugs Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? 

Consumers place great faith in weight loss pills and remedies, buying and using them more than ever before. American obesity rates, however, are skyrocketing. False beliefs about these drugs are causing Americans to gain more weight.

What determines the impact of weight-management remedy marketing on healthy lifestyle behaviors? Exposure to drug (but not supplement) marketing for weight management encourages unhealthy consumer behavior as a result of reliance on erroneous beliefs about health remedies. The authors explore the possible mitigating role of two dimensions of healthy literacy: nutrition knowledge and remedy knowledge. Whether measured or manipulated, the results show remedy knowledge to be more effective than nutrition knowledge at lessening the effect of weight-management drug marketing on unhealthy behavior. The authors provide a discussion of the theoretical and substantive implications of this research for consumer welfare. 

Heightened Scents: Do Ambient Fragrances Make Consumers Purchase More? 

Do customers make different choices based on the fragrance surrounding them? The “temperature” of scents in a store atmosphere may have a powerful effect on what and how much customers buy.

How do ambient scents affect consumers' spatial perceptions in retail environments? Does scent in turn influence customers' feelings of power and purchasing behavior? In a warm- (vs. cool-) scented and thus perceptually more (vs. less) socially dense environment, people experience a greater (vs. lesser) need for power, which manifests in increased preference for and purchase of premium products and brands. This research extends knowledge on store atmospherics and customer experience management through the effects of ambient scent on spatial perceptions and builds on recent research on power in choice contexts. 


High-Energy TV Commercials: Too Much Stress for Consumers? 

Consumers are tuning out TV commercials, making advertisers run louder, higher-energy ads to force their attention. This may be backfiring critically when consumers are watching sad or relaxing shows.

How does media-induced consumer activation level affect consumer response to highly energetic commercials? Consumers who are experiencing an emotion such as sadness induced by a movie find it more difficult to watch highly energetic commercials compared with consumers who are not experiencing a deactivating emotion. As a result, consumers experiencing a deactivating emotion are less likely to watch highly energetic commercials and recall the advertiser compared with consumers who are not experiencing a deactivating emotion. The authors do not observe these effects when consumers experiencing a deactivating emotion watch commercials that are moderately energetic or when consumers do not experience a deactivating emotion. When advertisers run commercials in a media context that induces a deactivating emotion such as sadness, relaxation, or contentment, they should avoid running highly energetic commercials with upbeat, enthusiastic spokespeople. When advertisers are unable to determine the emotions induced by the media context, they should run commercials that are moderate in energy. Consumers experiencing a deactivating emotion will respond as much as 50% more favorably to moderately energetic commercials compared with highly energetic commercials.

​​The AMA Journal Reader: Curations from Scholarly Journals​ features curations of top content from the American Marketing Association's leading journals. This e-publication provides scholars and managers with brief, easy-to-read essays written by some of the foremost thought leaders in marketing scholarship. Derived from the AMA's prestigious journal content​, The AMA Journal Reader is an excellent resource for obt​​​​aining information on a variety of research topics and related articles.​

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Bolton, Lisa E., Amit Bhattacharjee, and Americus Reed II (2015), “The Perils of Marketing Weight-Management Remedies and the Role of Health Literacy,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 34 (Spring), 50–62.

Etkin, Jordan, Ioannis Evangelidis, and Jennifer Aaker (2015), “Pressed for Time? Goal Conflict Shapes How Time is Perceived, Spent, and Valued,” Journal of Marketing Research, 52 (June), 394–406.

Joireman, Jeff, Dustin Smith, Richie Liu, and Jonathan Arthurs (2015), “It’s All Good: Corporate Social Responsibility Promotes Positive Response to Service Failures Among Value-Aligned Customers,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 34 (Spring), 32–49.

Madzharov, Ariana V., Lauren G. Block, and Maureen Morrin (2015), “The Cool Scent of Power: Effects of Ambient Scent on Consumer Preferences and Choice Behavior,” Journal of Marketing, 79 (January), 83–96.

Plassmann, Hilke and Bernd Weber (2015), “Individual Differences in Marketing Placebo Effects: Evidence from Brain Imaging and Behavioral Experiments,” Journal of MarketingResearch, 52 (August), published electronically January 14, 2015, [DOI:].

Puccinelli, Nancy M., Keith Wilcox, and Dhruv Grewal (2015), “Consumers’ Response to Commercials: When the Energy Level in the Commercial Conflicts with the Media Context,”Journal of Marketing, 79 (March), 1–18.

Author Bio:
MARY-ANN TWIST is the Media Relations Manager for the AMA journals (JMR, JM, JPPM, and JIM). She recently retired from the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR), where she served as Managing Editor from 1999-2014.
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