Rik Pieters

Tilburg University, Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands

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Publications (107)103.01 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: When buying wine, consumers often need to infer unobservable characteristics of the wines that are available. Product scarcity in the store can signal that the quality of a wine is high, either because the product is deemed exclusive (when scarcity is supply-caused) or because the product is deemed popular (when scarcity is demand-caused). This “scarcity principle” has been observed in various contexts, and thus seems universal, but it is not. This study aims to show when scarcity of a specific wine increases consumer choice for this wine, and when it does not. Specifically, two experiments show that scarcity has little or no effect when consumers are less involved with the product category wine, that uniqueness goals can increase the effect of supply-caused scarcity on product choice, and that these uniqueness goals do not counteract the effect of demand-caused scarcity on choice. Thus, even consumers with a uniqueness goal respond positively to demand-caused scarcity. Moreover, the study shows that scarcity is effectively communicated not only through a verbal sales pitch but also through merely the visual display of the amount of shelf space provided for products and the amount emptied shelf space as a signal of prior purchases.
    Food Quality and Preference 09/2014; · 2.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Envy is a frustrating emotion that arises from upward social comparison. Two studies investigated the appraisals that distinguish benign envy (aimed at improving one's own situation) from malicious envy (aimed at pulling down the superior other). Study 1 found that appraisals of deservingness and control potential differentiated both types of envy. We manipulated these appraisals in Study 2 and found that while both did not influence the intensity of envy, they did determine the type of envy that resulted. The more a situation was appraised as undeserved, the more participants experienced malicious envy. Benign envy was experienced more when the situation was not undeserved, and the most when the situation was appraised as both deserved and controllable. The current research also clarifies how the types of envy differ from the related emotions admiration and resentment.
    Motivation and Emotion 06/2012; 36(2):195-204. · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that elicit their envy. The more people compared themselves to a superior other, the higher the envy premium was. Yet, the emotion envy and not the upward comparison drove the final effects. The envy premium only emerged for a desirable product that the superior other owned (iPhone) when people experienced benign envy. Benign envy is elicited when the other's superior position is deserved, and malicious envy when it is undeserved. When people experienced malicious envy, the envy premium emerged for a desirable product that the superior other did not own (BlackBerry). This shows how benign envy places a premium on keeping up, and malicious envy on moving away from, superior others.
    Journal of Consumer Research 04/2011; 37(6):984-998. · 3.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Four studies tested the hypothesis that the emotion of benign envy, but not the emotions of admiration or malicious envy, motivates people to improve themselves. Studies 1 to 3 found that only benign envy was related to the motivation to study more (Study 1) and to actual performance on the Remote Associates Task (which measures intelligence and creativity; Studies 2 and 3). Study 4 found that an upward social comparison triggered benign envy and subsequent better performance only when people thought self-improvement was attainable. When participants thought self-improvement was hard, an upward social comparison led to more admiration and no motivation to do better. Implications of these findings for theories of social emotions such as envy, social comparisons, and for understanding the influence of role models are discussed.
    Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 03/2011; 37(6):784-95. · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We propose a new fully automated velocity-based algorithm to identify fixations from eye-movement records of both eyes, with individual-specific thresholds. The algorithm is based on robust minimum determinant covariance estimators (MDC) and control chart procedures, and is conceptually simple and computationally attractive. To determine fixations, it uses velocity thresholds based on the natural within-fixation variability of both eyes. It improves over existing approaches by automatically identifying fixation thresholds that are specific to (a) both eyes, (b) x- and y- directions, (c) tasks, and (d) individuals. We applied the proposed Binocular-Individual Threshold (BIT) algorithm to two large datasets collected on eye-trackers with different sampling frequencies, and compute descriptive statistics of fixations for larger samples of individuals across a variety of tasks, including reading, scene viewing, and search on supermarket shelves. Our analysis shows that there are considerable differences in the characteristics of fixations not only between these tasks, but also between individuals.
    Behavior Research Methods 11/2010; 43(1):239-57. · 2.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The fear of being envied makes people act prosocially, in an attempt to ward off the potentially destructive effects of envy. In three experiments, people who were in a superior position and could be envied were more likely than control participants to give time-consuming advice to a potentially envious person or to help a potentially envious person pick up erasers she had accidentally scattered. However, helping behavior increased only if envy was likely to be malicious rather than benign. People who were better off did not increase their helping behavior toward people in general, but increased their helping only toward the potentially envious. This finding is consistent with the idea that the better off act more prosocially as an appeasement strategy. The fear of being envied serves useful group functions, because it triggers prosocial behavior that is likely to dampen the potentially destructive effects of envy and simultaneously helps to improve the situation of people who are worse off.
    Psychological Science 10/2010; 21(11):1671-7. · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Advertising recognition tests use advertisements as visual retrieval cues; they require consumers to report which advertisements they remember having seen earlier and whether they noticed the advertised brand and read most of the text at the time. Using a heterogeneous randomly stopped sum model, the authors establish the relationship between consumers' actual attention to print advertisements, as measured through eye tracking, and subsequent ad recognition measures. They find that ad recognition measures are systematically biased because consumers infer prior attention from the ad layout and their familiarity with the brands in the advertisements. Such biases undermine the validity of recognition tests for advertising practice and theory development. The authors quantify the positive and negative diagnostic value of ad recognition for prior attention and demonstrate how these diagnostic values can be used to develop bias-adjusted recognition (BAR) scores that more accurately reflect prior attention. Finally, the authors show that differences in the scores from ad recognition tests based on in-home versus lab exposure attenuate when the bias-adjustment procedure is applied.
    Journal of Marketing Research 06/2010; · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: People need to allocate their limited cognitive resources to current and future tasks. We provide evidence that anticipating the resource demands of a future task creates a "get ready mind-set" that mobilizes these resources. However, the mobilized resources for the future task can carry over to unrelated current tasks. This implies the counterintuitive notion that anticipating difficult tasks in the future leads to greater effort expenditure on unrelated tasks in the present. We also demonstrate that resource carryover is particularly likely when consumers' ability to separate tasks is low, whereas resource conservation is more likely when ability to separate is high. (c) 2009 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
    Journal of Consumer Research. 01/2010; 37(1):98-107.
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    ABSTRACT: We develop a conceptual framework about the impact that branding activity (the audiovisual representation of brands) and consumers' focused versus dispersed attention have on consumer moment-to-moment avoidance decisions during television advertising. We formalize this framework in a dynamic probit model and estimate it with Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. Data on avoidance through zapping, along with eye tracking on 31 commercials for nearly 2,000 participants, are used to calibrate the model. New, simple metrics of attention dispersion are shown to strongly predict avoidance. Independent of this, central on-screen brand positions, but not brand size, further promote commercial avoidance. Based on the model estimation, we optimize the branding activity that is under marketing control for ads in the sample to reduce commercial avoidance. This reveals that brand pulsing--while keeping total brand exposure constant--decreases commercial avoidance significantly. Both numerical simulations and a controlled experiment using regular and edited commercials, respectively, provide evidence of the benefits of brand pulsing to ward off commercial avoidance. Implications for advertising management and theory are addressed.
    Marketing Science 01/2010; 29:783-804. · 2.36 Impact Factor
  • Rik Pieters, Michel Wedel, Rajeev Batra
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    ABSTRACT: Advertising needs to capture consumers' attention in likable ways, and the visual complexity of advertising plays a central role in this regard. Yet ideas about visual complexity effects conflict, and objective measures of complexity are rare. The authors distinguish two types of visual complexity, differentiate them from the difficulty of comprehending advertising, and propose objective measures for each. Advertisements are visually complex when they contain dense perceptual features ("feature complexity") and/or when they have an elaborate creative design ("design complexity"). An analysis of 249 advertisements that were tested with eye-tracking shows that, as the authors hypothesize, feature complexity hurts attention to the brand and attitude toward the ad, whereas design complexity helps attention to both the pictorial and the advertisement as a whole, its comprehensibility, and attitude toward the ad. This is important because design complexity is under direct control of the advertiser. The proposed measures can be readily adopted to assess the visual complexity of advertising, and the findings can be used to improve the stopping power of advertisements.
    Journal of Marketing 01/2010; 74(5):48-60. · 5.47 Impact Factor
  • American Mathematical Monthly - AMER MATH MON. 01/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: Envy is the painful emotion caused by the good fortune of others. This research empirically supports the distinction between two qualitatively different types of envy, namely benign and malicious envy. It reveals that the experience of benign envy leads to a moving-up motivation aimed at improving one's own position, whereas the experience of malicious envy leads to a pulling-down motivation aimed at damaging the position of the superior other. Study 1 used guided recall of the two envy types in a culture (the Netherlands) that has separate words for benign and malicious envy. Analyses of the experiential content of these emotions found the predicted differences. Study 2 and 3 used one sample from the United States and one from Spain, respectively, where a single word exists for both envy types. A latent class analysis based on the experiential content of envy confirmed the existence of separate experiences of benign and malicious envy in both these cultures as well. The authors discuss the implications of distinguishing the two envy types for theories of cooperation, group performance, and Schadenfreude.
    Emotion 07/2009; 9(3):419-29. · 3.88 Impact Factor
  • Jie Zhang, Michel Wedel, Rik Pieters
    Journal of Marketing Research - J MARKET RES-CHICAGO. 01/2009; 46(5):669-681.
  • Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 01/2009;
  • Michel Wedel, Rik Pieters, John Liechty
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    ABSTRACT: Eye movements across advertisements express a temporal pattern of bursts of respectively relatively short and long saccades, and this pattern is systematically influenced by activated scene perception goals. This was revealed by a continuous-time hidden Markov model applied to eye movements of 220 participants exposed to 17 ads under a free-viewing condition, and a scene-learning goal (ad memorization), a scene-evaluation goal (ad appreciation), a target-learning goal (product learning), or a target-evaluation goal (product evaluation). The model reflects how attention switches between two states--local and global--expressed in saccades of shorter and longer amplitude on a spatial grid with 48 cells overlaid on the ads. During the 5- to 6-s duration of self-controlled exposure to ads in the magazine context, attention predominantly started in the local state and ended in the global state, and rapidly switched about 5 times between states. The duration of the local attention state was much longer than the duration of the global state. Goals affected the frequency of switching between attention states and the duration of the local, but not of the global, state.
    Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied 07/2008; 14(2):129-38. · 1.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Advances in eye-tracking technology have promoted its widespread use to understand and improve target searches in psychology, industrial engineering, human factors, medical diagnostics, and marketing. Eye movements are the realization of a complex, unobserved spatiotemporal attention process with many sources of variation. Eye-tracking data often have been aggregated and/or summarized descriptively, because few adequate statistical models are available for their analysis. This article proposes a model that may serve to uncover the latent attention processes of people searching for targets in complex scenes. It recognizes the spatial nature of eye movements and represents two latent attention states, a localization state and an identification state, between which people may switch over time according to a Markov process. A saliency map, based on low-level perceptual features and the scene's organization, guide target searches in the localization state. In the identification state, people verify whether a selected candidate object is the target. The model is applied to analyze commercial eye-tracking data from more than 100 people engaged in a target search task on a computer-simulated retail shelf display. Rapid switching between attention states over time is revealed. Estimates of the feature and saliency maps are provided and found to be related to search performance. The results facilitate the evaluation of the effectiveness of alternative visual search strategies.
    Journal of the American Statistical Association 02/2008; 103(June):452-461. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a motivational account of the impact of emotion on decision making, termed the feeling-is-for-doing approach. We first describe the psychology of emotion and argue for a need to be specific when studying emotion's impact on decision making. Next we describe what our approach entails and how it relates emotion, via motivation to behavior. Then we offer two illustrations of our own research that provide support for two important elements in our reasoning. We end with specifying four criteria that we consider to be important when studying how feeling guides our everyday doing.
    Judgment and decision making 02/2008; 3(January):18-27. · 2.62 Impact Factor
  • M. Zeelenberg, R. Pieters
    Journal of The American Geriatrics Society - J AMER GERIAT SOC. 01/2008;
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    ABSTRACT: Brand salience—the extent to which a brand visually stands out from its competitors—is vital in competing on the shelf, yet is not easy to achieve in practice. This study proposes a methodology to determine the competitive salience of brands, based on a model of visual search and eye-movement recordings collected during a brand search experiment. We estimate brand salience at the point of purchase, based on perceptual features (color, luminance, edges) and how these are influenced by consumers' search goals. We show that the salience of brands has a pervasive effect on search performance, and is determined by two key components: The bottom-up component is due to in-store activity and package design. The top-down component is due to out-of-store marketing activities such as advertising. We show that about one-third of salience on the shelf is due to out-of-store and two-thirds due to in-store marketing. The proposed methodology for competitive salience analysis exposes the optimal visual differentiation level of a brand versus its competitors, and of each SKU versus the other SKUs of the same brand. The model of the visual search process and methodology for competitive salience analysis enable diagnostic analyses of the current levels of visual differentiation of brands and SKUs at the point of purchase, and provide directions for increasing these.
    Marketing Science. 01/2008; 27(5):922-931.
  • H. Baumgartner, R. Pieters

Publication Stats

2k Citations
103.01 Total Impact Points


  • 1984–2012
    • Tilburg University
      • • Department of Marketing
      • • Department of Social Psychology
      • • CentER for Research in Economics and Business " CentER"
      Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands
  • 2010
    • The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
      Chiu-lung, Kowloon City, Hong Kong
  • 1988
    • Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
      • Department of Economics
      Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands