Marketing Letters

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 943–957 | Cite as

Why consumers respond differently to absolute versus percentage descriptions of quantities

  • Danny Weathers
  • Scott D. Swain
  • Jay P. Carlson


Consumers often provide different evaluations of absolute and percentage descriptions of the same quantity. Prior research has attributed this to two factors: selection of distinct reference contexts and differential cognitive difficulty. However, in a preliminary study, we show that discrepancies in consumer evaluations of absolute and percentage quantities can arise even when these two factors are held constant. A series of studies provides evidence that (1) this effect is rooted in automatic, nonverbal associations between numerical stimuli and analogue magnitude coding and (2) the influence of analogue magnitude codes manifests across different kinds of quantities, different evaluations, and different processing modes.


Analogue magnitude codes Face values Percentages Pricing Price evaluations 



The authors contributed equally to this research. They would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for the many helpful comments that substantially improved the quality and contribution of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danny Weathers
    • 1
  • Scott D. Swain
    • 2
  • Jay P. Carlson
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Business and Behavioral ScienceClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.College of Business AdministrationNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.School of ManagementUnion Graduate College of Union UniversitySchenectadyUSA

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