My research examines the emotional, motivational and cognitive aspects of consumer judgment and decision making, as well as other aspects of consumer behaviour. Much of my research focuses on whether judgment is biased or not; and if so, whether there are any adaptive benefits that might explain such biases. This research has implications for marketing in areas such as advertising and sales, behavioural pricing, sales promotion, and word-of-mouth behaviour.
2021-present Associate Editor, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing
2017-2020 Associate Editor, Journal of Consumer Research
2019 Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal Retailing
2018-2020 Associate Editor, Business & Society
2016 Outstanding Reviewer Award, Journal of Consumer Research
2012-2015 Associate Editor, Journal of Consumer Psychology
2012 Best Marketing Paper Award, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Conference
2010 Park Prize For Outstanding Contribution to the Journal of Consumer Psychology (JCP) for Best Paper appearing in JCP in 2007
2007 Best Paper Award, Journal of Consumer Psychology
2002 Best Marketing Paper Award, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Conference
1999-2007 Finning Ltd. Professorship in Marketing
1994 Tanaka Dissertation Award in Personality Psychology
Darke, P. and Main, K.J. (2020), "Crying Wolf, or the Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease: Effects of Prior Warnings on Perceived Risk.", Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 39(1), 62–75.
Product safety warnings are pervasive in the marketplace. The frequency and, in some cases, content of such warnings has led some to speculate that the cumulative effects may undermine the efficacy of warnings in general—including that of different warnings for other products. According to the generalized desensitization hypothesis, numerous past warnings can cause consumers to react less strongly to safety warnings for other products subsequently encountered. In contrast, the literature on goal activation and compensatory consumer behavior suggests that any self-protective goals aroused by initial warnings can potentially generalize to increase awareness and safety precautions in other warning contexts, consistent with the generalized sensitization hypothesis. The authors tested both hypotheses by manipulating the number and strength of an initial set of product warnings and examining whether such exposure generalized to different product warnings. In support of the generalized sensitization prediction, prior warnings motivated appreciation of the risks communicated in a different warning context and increased relevant safety behaviors. These generalized sensitization effects were moderated by self-affirmation, supporting the prediction that they are driven by self-protective goals.
Darke, P., Germelmann, C., Herrmann, J. and Kacha, M. (2020), "Congruence and Incongruence in Advertisement-Medium Combinations: Role of Awareness, Fluency, and Persuasion Knowledge", Journal of Advertising, 49(2), 141-164.
We suggest that thematic ad–medium congruency versus incongruency evokes distinct effects on consumer evaluations through different underlying mechanisms. Specifically, we propose congruency largely has positive effects on consumer evaluations due to a relatively automatic fluency process, whereas incongruency evokes a more conscious and negative persuasion knowledge (PK) process that leads to negative evaluations. Study 1 showed that consumers were more attentive to incongruence than congruence, particularly when the ad–medium combination was presented with other ads or materials. Studies 2A and 2B confirmed that congruency led to positive evaluations through perceived fluency, whereas incongruency led to negative-PK thoughts involving manipulative intent and more negative evaluations. Studies 3A and 3B provided causal evidence for the role of PK by showing that positive PK attenuated the negative effects the incongruency tactic had otherwise. Overall, these findings suggest the common practice of directly comparing congruent and incongruent media tactics confounds two very different processes. Managerial implications for advertising and media marketing are discussed.
Darke, P. and Aditya, S. (2020), "Role of Entertainment, Social Goals, and Accuracy Concerns in Knowingly Spreading Questionable Brand Rumors", Journal of Association of Consumer Research, 5(2), 220-237.
Accuracy goals are central to communication theory. Consistent with this perspective, a comprehensive review suggests that rumors are spread largely for accuracy reasons—either because transmitters, in fact, believe the rumors are true or for the purpose of verification through sense-making (DiFonzo and Bordia 2007). This literature also suggests that rumors can be spread in service of social goals such as affiliation (Rosnow 1991), for instance, by passing on social rumors about disliked out-groups to strengthen ties with the in-group. Our own research focused on brand rumors and suggests that entertainment is a common reason that such rumors are shared. Moreover, we show entertaining rumors serve social affiliation goals, and that the social benefits of spreading entertaining rumors can dominate private concerns about their inaccuracy. Social goals also led consumers to embellish the rumors they spread in order to make them more entertaining and to share rumors over factual brand information. These entertainment effects are shown to be independent of any alternative sense-making or affect sharing explanations for transmitting questionable rumors. Theoretically speaking, the entertainment effects identified here offer a novel explanation for the spread of questionable or implausible rumors. That is, we show consumers will knowingly spread implausible rumors just because they offer a good story for entertaining others. This idea has important practical implications for brand strategies dealing with misleading rumors.
Darke, P., Astray, T. and Tasa, K. (2020), "Understanding The Effects of Counterfeit Experiences on Consumer Attitudes Towards Genuine Brands: An Associative Judgment Model", Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences.Keywords
Using an associative judgment framework, the authors examine the implications that negative feedback about counterfeit performance can have on subsequent evaluations for both the imitated genuine brand and competing genuine brands. Findings from two studies suggest that poor–quality counterfeits can carry over to produce negative evaluations for the target brand and closely associated competitors, but not to weakly associated competitors. These negative carry–over effects were qualified by country–of–origin differences and increased cognitive elaboration. These findings have important theoretical and managerial implications for the problems that counterfeits pose to genuine brands.
Ashworth, L.A., Darke, P., McShane, L. and Vu, T. (2019), "The Rules of Exchange: The Role of an Exchange Premium in Producing the Endowment Effect.", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 152, 11-14.
The endowment effect is one of the most robust and well-studied phenomena in the behavioral decision literature. The dominant explanation for this effect is that loss aversion and/or the psychological value of ownership changes the subjective valuation of an item. The current research presents evidence for an alternative account of endowment that requires no shift in subjective value. We argue that (a) individuals will only agree to exchange (i.e., buy and sell) if they perceive some minimum net gain, an exchange surplus, and (b) existing work cannot disentangle the possible effects of an exchange surplus from genuine shifts in subjective value because ownership and exchange are confounded in standard demonstrations of the endowment effect. Four experiments test this idea by separating the effects of exchange from ownership in various ways. Results indicate that exchange has a substantial effect on prices, that this effect appears to be independent of subjective valuation, and that it can explain valuation differences ordinarily ascribed to ownership. We discuss why individuals might demand an exchange surplus and the implications of this for monetary valuation.
Darke, P., Odou, P. and Voisin, D. (2019), "Promouvoir Les Comportements Pro-Environnementaux Grâce à L’hypocrisie Induite", Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 34(1), 78-94.
Dans le domaine de la consommation pro-environnementale, les recherches se sont évertuées ces dernières années à expliquer l’écart existant entre les attitudes et les comportements effectifs. Trois études expérimentales montrent que lorsque la contradiction entre ce que les individus disent et ce qu’ils font est rendue saillante, c’est-à-dire dans une situation d’hypocrisie induite, ils réduisent de manière indirecte la dissonance cognitive qui en résulte en étant plus altruistes à l’égard d’associations qui agissent pour l’environnement mais pas pour des associations humanitaires. Cet effet de l’hypocrisie induite n’est plus significatif lorsque les individus ont pu, au préalable, affirmer leur Soi.
Darke, P., Odou, P. and Voisin, D. (2019), "Promoting Pro-Environmental Behaviours Through Induced Hypocrisy", Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 34(1), 74-90.
In the field of ethical consumption, research in recent years has attempted to explain the gap between principles and actual behaviour. Three experimental studies show that when the contradiction between what individuals say and what they do is made salient in the field of environmental protection, that is to say in a situation of induced hypocrisy, they indirectly reduce the resulting cognitive dissonance by being more altruistic towards associations that act for the environment but not towards humanitarian associations. This effect of induced hypocrisy fades as individuals become less vulnerable to the threat to the self by affirming values that are important to them.
Benedicktus, R., Brady, M., Darke, P. and Wilson, A. (2016), "Feeling Close From Afar: The Role of Psychological Distance in Offsetting Distrust in Unfamilar Online Retailers", Journal of Retailing, 92(3), 287-299.Keywords
E-commerce offers retailers the opportunity to attract new customers online; however, consumer distrust toward unfamiliar retailers can seriously impede these efforts. Construal Level Theory suggests that such distrust can be partially understood in terms of psychological distance, and that reducing psychological distance using simple website tactics should overcome distrust and encourage first-time purchases. Studies 1 and 2 show a physically distant retail store, or lack of a physical store altogether, contribute to psychological distance, distrust, and reluctance to purchase online. Studies 2 and 3 further show that website images of an office building (increased tangibility), or the owner’s name and appearance (social proximity), can improve trust and purchase intentions by specifically reducing the psychological distance otherwise associated with purely virtual or physically distant retailers.
Cowart, K. and Darke, P. (2014), "Targeting Miss Daisy: Using Age and Gender to Target Unethical Sales Tactics", Marketing Letters, 25(1), 67-75.
Marketers often advocate the use of targeted promotional strategies because they are presumed more effective. However, common targeting variables (gender and age) can also serve to stereotype some consumers (female or older) as more vulnerable to sales pressure. The current research shows that this can cause sales agents to target these stigmatized groups with inferior products. In contrast, encouraging sales agents to empathize with target customers was effective in reducing the targeting of these groups with substandard items. Implications are discussed.
Darke, P. and Sobol, K. (2014), "I’d Like to Be That Attractive, But At Least I’m Smart: How Exposure To Ideal Advertising Models Motivates Improved Decision-Making", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(4), 533-544.
The use of idealized advertising models has been heavily criticized in recent years. Existing research typically adopts a social comparison framework and shows that upward comparisons with models can lower self-esteem and affect, as well as produce maladaptive behavior. However, the alternative possibility that consumers can cope with threatening advertising models by excelling in other behavioral domains has not been examined. The present research draws on fluid compensation theory (Tesser, 2000) and shows that idealized models motivate improved performance in consumer domains that fall outside that of the original comparison. These more positive coping effects operate through self-discrepancies induced by idealized models, rather than self-esteem or negative affect. Specifically, self-discrepancies motivate consumers to improve decision-making by: 1) making more optimal choices from well-specified consideration sets, and 2) better self-regulating indulgent choices. More broadly, the current research integrates and extends theories of fluid compensation and self-discrepancy, as well as provides a more complete picture of the ways in which consumers cope with idealized advertising models.
Darke, P. and Wilson, A. (2012), "The Optimistic Trust Effect: Use of Belief in a Just World to Cope with Decision Generated Threat", Journal of Consumer Research, 39(3), 615–628.
In a process the authors term just world coping, some consumers use positive beliefs concerning the general benevolence of the world as a resource to cope with marketplace threat. This belief buffers or even, ironically, enhances trust judgments in the face of threat. Three experiments and one replication show that, whereas consumers who do not hold this belief respond to decision-generated threat with distrust, trust is significantly higher for those who believe in a just world (optimistic trust effect). Process evidence shows such coping is automatically activated in response to threat but can be corrected for more normative considerations when an obvious ulterior motive is present. Finally, evidence this coping serves an ego-protective function is provided by manipulating whether consumers are directly threatened. Overall, findings are consistent with the view that belief in a just world operates as a positive illusion that allows consumers to cope with decision threat.
Courses TaughtPhD: Consumer Judgment and Decision Making
Masters: Consumer Behaviour
Undergraduate: Strategic Marketing Communications, Consumer Behaviour
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project TitleConstrual of Trust and Suspicion in Marketing Contexts RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$78,460.00 Year Awarded2017-2021 Granting AgencySocial Science and Hummanities Project TitleCognitive and Motivational Processes in Consumer Suspicion RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$78,038.00 Year Awarded2011-2016 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleHow consumers use persuasion knowledge to judge interpersonal marketing communications RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$72,124.00 Year Awarded2009-2012 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleConsumer Defensiveness and Distrust in a Broader Context RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$91,575.00 Year Awarded2008-2011 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleUnderstanding consumer judgments of fairness RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$54,942.00 Year Awarded2007-2010 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleThe Effect of Sales Clerk Flattery on Sinister Attributions RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$16,000.00 Year Awarded2007 Granting AgencyFlorida State University Council on Research and Creativity - Award Project TitleAn empirical investigation of the antecedents and consequences of consumer suspicion: Implications for consumers and marketers RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$70,272.00 Year Awarded2005-2008 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleCompetition and ethical behaviour: A study of misleading claims in competitive environments RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$30,000.00 Year Awarded2005-2006 Granting AgencyUBC Hampton Fund - Research Grant Program Project TitleFalse advertising and consumer suspicion RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$71,000.00 Year Awarded2004-2007 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleProduct failure and consumer suspicion RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$1,285.00 Year Awarded2004-2005 Granting AgencyUniversity of British Columbia - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Grant Project TitleNonfinancial motives and getting a bargain RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$2,200.00 Year Awarded2003-2004 Granting AgencyUniversity of British Columbia - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Grant Project TitleAffect and consumer decision-making. RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$78,300.00 Year Awarded2000-2003 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitlePrice quality effects and discounts RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$1,700.00 Year Awarded1999-2000 Granting AgencyUniversity of British Columbia - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Grant