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Explaining Cognitive Lock-In: The Role of Skill-Based Habits of Use in Consumer Choice

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Abstract

We introduce and test a theory of how the choices consumers make are influenced by skill-based habits of use-goal-activated automated behaviors that develop through the repeated consumption or use of a particular product. Such habits can explain how consumers become locked in to an incumbent product. The proposed theory characterizes how the amount of experience with the incumbent product, the occurrence of usage errors while learning to use that product, and the goal that is activated at the time a choice is made interrelate to influence consumer preference. The results of three experiments support the theory's predictions. (c) 2007 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..

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