Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Business Administration-Marketing

Committee Director

John Ford

Committee Member

Yuping Liu-Thompkins

Committee Member

Steve Rhiel


Consumers’ associate higher prices with higher levels of quality. Nevertheless, the relationship between price and objective quality (i.e., real quality) in the marketplace is not always strong or even positive. This seemingly paradoxical phenomenon could be explained by either consumers’ lack of access to the product information (which is unlikely as we live in the age of information) or their reluctance/inability to assimilate the available information and modify their price-quality judgments. The current research is built on this latter assumption and attempts to answer two substantive questions that remain to be fully addressed in the pricing literature: First, how can we alter consumers’ price-quality judgments? Second, what is the effect of gender on consumers’ price-quality perceptions?

Essay 1 attempted to answer these questions using 12 main studies that employed survey research, experimental research, and observational research methods to achieve methodological triangulation. Samples included a student sample, adult samples, and real-world data and varied from 72 respondents to 222,600 product/day observations in size. Cumulative evidence in Essay 1 suggested that provoking suspicion against a specific brand could undermine consumers’ reliance on price to judge the quality of that brand. Whereas, activating persuasion knowledge is likely to elicit a general suspicion against marketing and subsequently increase consumers’ tendency to make price-quality judgments. Furthermore, Essay 1 offered empirical evidence that gender influences consumers’ thinking style, price-quality perceptions, and the actual prices that they pay for comparable products in the marketplace.

Given the counterintuitive findings in Essay 1 regarding the positive effect of persuasion knowledge on consumers’ tendency to make inaccurate price-quality judgments, Essay 2 attempted to explore the underpinning mechanisms of the persuasion knowledge. In Essay 2, the author synthesized the extant literature on persuasion knowledge and proposed an integrative, process-based framework of consumers’ persuasion knowledge (CPK). This framework points out the key role that emotions play in the development and activation processes of persuasion knowledge, which is likely to account for the counterintuitive effect of persuasion knowledge on the accuracy of the price-quality perceptions.


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