Area of Expertise
- Consumer Behavior
- Consumer Information Processing
- Marketing - Technology
My research focuses on how consumers make sense of innovative products and how marketers can better facilitate the adoption of innovation. In particular, a common theme I explore is how consumers make inferential and often biased judgments when evaluating new products. I primarily explore these judgments from a cognitive perspective, with a heavy emphasis on theories of categorization and visual processing. This encompasses everything from how consumers make sense of incremental adjustments to a product’s form, packaging, or functionality to more nuanced changes in how consumers deal with the introduction of radical innovations and the emergence of entirely new product concepts. My research has implications for marketers and public policymakers as it relates to a variety of domains including, but not limited to, food innovation, currency innovation, and the proliferation of technology.
2020 York University “Research Leader” Designation
2020 Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) Outstanding Reviewer Award
2020 President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award (PERLA)
2019 Emerging Leader Research Award, Schulich School of Business, York University
2019 Renewal: Tier II Canada Research Chair
2018 Honourable Mention, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada
2017 Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) Outstanding Reviewer Award
2017 Ontario Early Researcher Award (Round 12 ERA)
2017 Best Paper Award, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC)
2016 Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Young Scholar
2015 Weber Shandwick Schulich Marketers Award: Research Excellence
2014 Tier II Canada Research Chair
2014 Best Paper Award, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC)
2013-2014 University Research Chair, University of Guelph
2011 AMA-Sheth Consortium Fellow
2011 Haring Symposium Fellow
2009 Distinguished Scholar Medal, University of Guelph
Noseworthy, T., Pancer, E., Philp, M. and Poole, M. (2021), "Content Hungry: How the Nutrition of Food Media Influences Social Media Engagement", Journal of Consumer Psychology.
What motivates people to consume and engage with food media on social networks? We adopt an evolutionary lens to suggest that the valence of people’s affective state varies by the implied caloric density of food media, which has a direct impact on social media engagement. First, we analyze a catalog of Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos based on nutritional content derived from the dish’s ingredients and find that visualizing caloric density (i.e., calories per serving) positively influences likes, comments, and shares on Facebook. We then replicate this phenomenon in an experiment, providing preliminary evidence for the role of affect as an explanatory mechanism. We conclude by isolating the role of affect with a classic misattribution task, which attenuates the elevated engagement resulting from exposure to calorie‐dense food media. These findings contribute to the dialogue on the antecedents of social media engagement and offer implications for content developers, advertisers, consumer health advocates, and policy makers.
Noseworthy, T. and Taylor, N. (2021), "Your Fries are Less Fattening than Mine: How Food Sharing Biases Fattening Judgments Without Biasing Caloric Estimates", Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Food sharing has become quite popular over the last decade, with companies offering food options specifically designed to be shared. As the popularity has grown, so too has concerns over the potential negative impact on consumer health. Despite companies’ explicit claims to the contrary, critics maintain that food sharing may be encouraging excessive caloric intake. The current article provides the first systematic exploration of why this may be happening. Three main and two supplementary studies suggest that food sharing reduces perceived ownership, which, in turn, leads people to mentally decouple calories from their consequence. Thus, sharing can reduce the perceived fattening potential of a consumption episode without biasing caloric estimates. This phenomenon persists even when explicit caloric information is provided, and it applies to both healthy and unhealthy foods. Importantly, we establish a relevant downstream consequence by illustrating that people tend to subsequently select calorie‐dense foods after underestimating the fattening potential of a shared consumption episode. A roadmap for future research and practical implications are discussed.
Hingston, S. and Noseworthy, T. (2020), "On the Epidemic of Food Waste: Idealized Prototypes and the Aversion to Misshapen Fruits and Vegetables", Food Quality and Preference, 86, 1-10.
Food waste is a significant problem and consumers’ tendency to reject misshapen produce has been identified as a key contributing factor. The current work investigates the implications of consumers incorporating aesthetic beauty into their prototypes—mental renderings—of fruits and vegetables. It is proposed that consumers have idealized prototypes for produce and this impacts the aversion to misshapen produce. The authors draw on prototype theory to predict that consumers’ personal experiences will influence the extent to which their prototypes for these foods have been biased towards aesthetic beauty and, consequently, how they respond to produce that is misshapen. Across three studies, the authors demonstrate that consumers who have direct experience with produce cultivation view produce that is low in aesthetic beauty as more prototypical, less disgusting, and more desirable. This work contributes to the food waste literature by offering novel insights into the psychological basis of the aversion to misshapen produce. These findings also present important implications for food policy.
Noseworthy, T. and Taylor, N. (2020), "Compensating for Innovation: Extreme Product Incongruity Encourages Consumers to Affirm Unrelated Consumption Schemas", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 30 (January), 77 – 95.Keywords
New products are often extremely incongruent with expectations. The inability to make sense of these prod-ucts elevates anxiety and leads to negative evaluations. Although scholars have predominantly focused oncombating the negative response to extreme incongruity, we propose that extreme incongruity may haveimplications that extend beyond the category. We base our predictions on the concept of ﬂuid compensation,which suggests that when people struggle to make sense of something, they will nonconsciously reinforcehighly accessible schemas in unrelated domains. Four studies conﬁrm that extreme incongruity encouragesﬂuid compensation, such that it elevates preference for dominant brands (study 1), green consumption (studies 2and 4), and ethnocentric products (study 3). We isolate the causal role of anxiety using moderation tasks andbiometric feedback. Furthermore, we demonstrate that compensation has an immediate dampening effect onarousal intensity. Thus, if consumers can compensate before explicitly evaluating an extremely incongruentproduct, their evaluations tend not to be negative. Taken together, we document that extreme innovationsencourage compensation, and in compensating, consumers can become more receptive to extreme innovations.
Noseworthy, T., Pancer, E., and Taylor, N. (2019), "Supersize My Chances: Promotional Lotteries Impact Product Size Choices", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 29(1), 79-88.
Promotional lotteries offer consumers a chance to win one of many prizes along with their purchase. Critically, as is often the case, these campaigns not only include an assortment of prizes but also an assortment of offerings that one can buy to enter the lottery—such as a small or an extra‐large coffee. While companies regularly advertise that the objective odds of winning do not vary by the size of their product offerings, recent anecdotal evidence suggest that consumers behave as if it does. The net result is that consumers seem to be supersizing during promotional lotteries, and thus purchasing larger sized items. Eight studies (four core and four supplementary in Supporting information) and a single‐paper meta‐analysis confirm that the supersizing phenomenon is indeed real and provides evidence that this behavior is the manifestation of consumers elevating their sense of control. Specifically, supersizing serves to gain psychological control over the pursuit of a desirable, but seemingly unobtainable, outcome.
Chandler, V., Noseworthy, T., Pancer, E., and Poole, M. (2019), "How Readability Shapes Social Media Engagement", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 29(2), 262-270.
We suggest that text readability plays an important role in driving consumer engagement on social media.Consistent with a processing ﬂuency account, we ﬁnd that easy-to-read posts are more liked, commented on,and shared on social media. We analyze over 4,000 Facebook posts from Humans of New York, a popular pho-tography blog on social media, over a 3-year period to see how readability shapes social media engagement.The results hold when controlling for photo features, story valence, and other content-related characteristics.Experimental ﬁndings further demonstrate the causal impact of readability and the processing ﬂuency mecha-nism in the context of a ﬁctitious brand community. This research articulates the impact of processing ﬂuencyon brief word-of-mouth transmissions in the real world while empirically demonstrating that readability as amessage feature matters. It also extends the impact of processing ﬂuency to a novel behavioral outcome:commenting and sharing actions.
Hingston S. and Noseworthy, T. (2018), "Why Consumers Don’t See the Benefits of Genetically Modified Foods, and What Marketers Can Do About it", Journal of Marketing, 82(5), 125-140.Keywords
Evidence from four studies suggests that the moral opposition toward genetically modified (GM) foods impedes the perception of their benefits, and critically, marketers can circumvent this moral opposition by employing subtle cues to position these products as being “man-made.” Specifically, if consumers view the GM food as man-made, and if they understand why it was created, moral opposition to the product diminishes, and the GM food’s perceived benefits increase, which subsequently increases purchase intentions for the product. This effect is replicated in the field (in both controlled and naturalistic settings), in a laboratory experiment, and with an online consumer panel. The results suggest that marketers can help consumers better consider all information when assessing the merits of GM foods by using packaging and promotion strategies to cue consumers to view the GM food for what it is (i.e., a man-made object created with intent). The findings have implications for the recent GM food labeling debate.
Muro, F., Murray, K., and Noseworthy, T. (2018), "When Two Wrongs Make a Right: Using Conjunctive Enablers to Enhance Evaluations for Extremely Incongruent New Products", Journal of Consumer Research, 44(6), 1379-1396.
The success of new incongruent products hinges largely on whether consumers can efficiently make sense of the product. One of the most efficient ways that people make sense of new objects is through feature-based association. Such associations often incorporate an enabler (e.g., the colour green) to help make sense of a semantically related feature (e.g., vitamin enriched). Evidence from three studies suggests that marketers can strategically incorporate enablers in product design to help consumers make sense of an extremely incongruent feature. As a result, consumers tend to reflect more favorably on the product. Furthermore, the authors find that even if the enabler itself is incongruent and leads to lower evaluations on its own, when combined with an atypical feature the effect can still be positive. Thus, a small but semantically meaningful adjustment in design can help marketers successfully introduce extremely incongruent innovations.
Pancer, E., McShane, L., and Noseworthy, T. (2017), "Isolated Environmental Cues and Product Efficacy Penalties: The Color Green and Eco-Labels", Journal of Business Ethics, 143(1), 159-177.Keywords
The current work examines how cues traditionally used to signal environmental friendliness, specifically the color green and eco-labels, and influence product efficacy perceptions and subsequent purchase intentions. Across three experiments, we find that environmental cues used in isolation (i.e., green color without an environmental label or an environmental label without green color) reduce perceptions of product efficacy. We argue that this efficacy discounting effect occurs because the isolated use of an environmental cue introduces category ambiguity by activating competing functionality and environmentally friendly schemas during evaluation. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on environmental consumption as well as offer insight into the effective use of environmental cues on product packaging.
Hingston, S., McManus, J. and Noseworthy, T. (2017), "How Inferred Contagion Biases Dispositional Judgments of Others", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 27(2), 195-206.
Drawing on recent evidence suggesting that beliefs about contagion underlie the market for celebrity‐contaminated objects, the current work investigates how people can make biased dispositional judgments about consumers who own such objects. Results from four experiments indicate that when a consumer comes in contact with a celebrity‐contaminated object and behaves in a manner that is inconsistent with the traits associated with that celebrity, people tend to make more extreme judgments of them. For instance, if the celebrity excels at a particular task, but the target who has come into contact with the celebrity‐contaminated object performs poorly, people reflect more harshly on the target. This occurs because observers implicitly expect that a consumer will behave in a way that is consistent with the traits associated with the source of contamination. Consistent with the law of contagion, these expectations only emerge when contact occurs. Our findings suggest that owning celebrity‐contaminated objects signals information about how one might behave in the future, which consequently has social implications for consumers who own such objects.
Sundar, A., and Noseworthy T. (2016), "When Sensory Marketing Works and When it Backfires", Harvard Business Review, May.
Chelsea, G. and Noseworthy, T. (2016), "Does Dirty Money Influence Product Valuations?", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(2), 304-310.
Despite recent interest in examining the impact of dirty money on consumption-related behavior, researchers have yet to look at the influence of dirty money on the consumable itself. Evidence from two studies suggest that the documented effects of dirty money on spending may have more to do with dirty money contaminating the purchase, as opposed to the current belief that consumers merely want to rid themselves of disgusting things. The authors find that people indeed spend more with dirty money, but only when the bills lower product valuations. This does not occur when people purchase products with inherent properties that cannot be contaminated; in fact, dirty money can increase valuations and preference for these products. The results suggest that the physical appearance of money plays a much larger, more nuanced role in consumption than previously thought, and this effect may not be entirely positive for the consumer.
Noseworthy, T. and Sundar, A. (2016), "Too Exciting to Fail, Too Sincere to Succeed: The Effects of Brand Personality on Sensory Disconfirmation", Journal of Consumer Research, 43(1), 44-67.
Across four studies, the authors demonstrate that consumers intuitively link disconfirmation, specifically sensory disconfirmation (when touch disconfirms expectations by sight), to a brand’s personality. Negative disconfirmation is often associated with negative posttrial evaluations. However, the authors find that when negative sensory disconfirmation is introduced by an exciting brand, the source of disconfirmation can sometimes be perceived positively. This occurs because consumers intuitively view disconfirmation as more authentic of an exciting personality. Similarly, despite the wealth of literature linking positive disconfirmation to positive posttrial evaluations, the authors find that sensory confirmation is more preferred for sincere brands because consumers intuitively view confirmation as more authentic of a sincere personality. The authors conclude by demonstrating the intuitive nature of this phenomenon by showing that the lay belief linking brand personality to disconfirmation does not activate in a context where sensory disconfirmation encourages a more deliberative assessment of the product.
Bagga, C.K., Dawar, N., and Noseworthy, T. (2016), "Asymmetric Consequences of Radical Innovations on Category Representations of Competing Brands", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26(1), 29-39.
A cognitive level account of when and why radical innovations impact category representations of competing brands is developed and tested. The results suggest that competing brands are affected only when a dominant brand introduces a radical innovation that alters a core category attribute. Such an innovation leads consumers to see competing brands as less typical of the category with diminished evaluations. Crucially, neither core radical innovations introduced by a non-dominant brand nor equally radical innovations that alter peripheral (non-core) attributes have any impact on consumers’ perceptions of competing brands. Implications for consumer preference formation and competition in the context of radical innovation are drawn.
Muro, F., Murray, K. and Noseworthy, T. (2014), "The Role of Arousal in Congruity-Based Product Evaluation", Journal of Consumer Research, 41(4), 1108-1126.Keywords
New products are often incongruent with consumer expectations. Researchers have shown that consumers prefer moderately incongruent products, while being adverse to extremely incongruent products. Evidence from three studies suggests that this phenomenon is highly influenced by a consumer’s state of arousal. Specifically, low arousal decreases preference for moderate incongruity while increasing preference for extreme incongruity, whereas high arousal decreases preference for any form of incongruity. Underlying these effects are discrete emotional states brought on by a physiological response to incongruity. Varying arousal subsequently varies the severity of the emotion, be it negative (anxiety) or positive (curiosity), which in turn varies evaluations for the product. This suggests that creating excitement around a product launch may be good for incremental innovation, but it may not be a good idea for something truly innovative.
Noseworthy, T. and Sundar, A. (2014), "Place the Logo High or Low? Using Conceptual Metaphors of Power in Packaging Design", Journal of Marketing, 78(5), 138-151.
Across three studies, this research examines how marketers can capitalize on their brand’s standing in the marketplace through strategic logo placement on their packaging. Using a conceptual metaphor framework, the authors find that consumers prefer powerful brands more when the brand logo is featured high rather than low on the brand’s packaging, whereas they prefer less powerful brands more when the brand logo is featured low rather than high on the brand’s packaging. Furthermore, the authors confirm that the underlying mechanism for this shift in preference is a fluency effect derived from consumers intuitively linking the concept of power with height. Given this finding, the authors then demonstrate an important boundary condition by varying a person’s state of power to be at odds with the metaphoric link. The results demonstrate when and how marketers can capitalize on consumers’ latent associations through package design.
Di Muro, F. and Noseworthy, T. (2013), "Money Isn’t Everything, but It Helps If It Doesn’t Look Used: How the Physical Appearance of Money Influences Spending", Journal of Consumer Research, 6(1), 1330-1342.
Despite evidence that currency denomination can influence spending, researchers have yet to examine whether the physical appearance of money can do the same. This is important because smaller denomination bills tend to suffer greater wear than larger denomination bills. Using real money in the context of real purchases, this article demonstrates that the physical appearance of money can override the influence of denomination. The reason being, people want to rid themselves of worn bills because they are disgusted by the contamination from others, whereas people put a premium on crisp currency because they take pride in owning bills that can be spent around others. This suggests that the physical appearance of money matters more than traditionally thought, and like most things in life, it too is inextricably linked to the social context. The results suggest that money may be less fungible than people think.
Colwell, S., Noseworthy, T. and Wood, M. (2013), "If You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees, You Might Just Cut Down the Forest: The Perils of Forced Choice on “Seemingly” Unethical Decision-Making", Journal of Business Ethics, 118, 515-527.
Why do otherwise well-intentioned managers make decisions that have negative social or environmental consequences? To answer this question, the authors combine the literature on construal level theory with the compromise effect to explore the circumstances that lead to seemingly unethical decision-making. The results of two studies suggest that the degree to which managers make high-risk tradeoffs is highly influenced by how they mentally represent the decision context. The authors find that managers are more likely to make seemingly unethical tradeoffs when psychological distance is high (rather than low) and when they are forced to choose between competing alternatives. However, when given the option not to choose, managers better reflect on the consequences of each alternative, and thus become more likely to choose options with less risk of negative consequences. The results suggest that simply offering managers the option not to choose may reduce psychological distance and help organizations avoid seemingly unethical decision-making.
Islam, T., Noseworthy, T. and Wang, J. (2012), "How Context Shapes Category Inferences and Attribute Preference for New Ambiguous Products", Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(4), 529-544.
Extant research suggests that when marketers introduce products with functions that span multiple categories, consumers tend to generate beliefs in line with only a single category. This has been regarded as a major marketing challenge because it leads consumers to ignore key attributes from the product’s supplementary category. Contrary to this prediction, the authors find that because consumers tend to classify new hybrid products by contrasting them against the competitive context, attributes from the supplementary category become more salient and thus contribute greater utility in choice. The authors pit the strength of this effect against several of the most dominant and favored category cues. The results confirm that classification inferences and attribute preference for new hybrid products are highly contextual, and as such, single category inferences need not translate directly into attribute preference.
Courses TaughtDCAD 7250 Research Design
MKTG 6440 New Products
DCAD 7060 Applied Statistics
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project TitleUsing Computer Vision Algorithms to Optimize the Communication Oof New Products to Grow the Economy RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$95,302.00 Year Awarded2018 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council Project TitleHow Extreme Product Incongruity Leads Consumers to Affirm Other Consumption-Relevant Knowledge Structures RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$101,058.00 Year Awarded2017 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - SSHRC Insight Grant Project TitleCompensating for Innovation: How Extreme Product Incongruity Encourages Consumers to Affirm Meaning in Paradoxical Ways RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$3,000.00 Year Awarded2017 Granting AgencyMarketing Science Institute (MSI) Project TitleExploring How Food Ambiguity Can Lead to Overconsumption RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$190,000.00 Year Awarded2017 Granting AgencyOntario Early Researcher Award (ERA) Project TitleThe Innovation, Design, and Consumption Laboratory RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$36,450.00 Year Awarded2016 Granting AgencyCanadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Institutional Operating Fund (IOF) Project TitleEntrepreneurial Innovation and the Public Good RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$500,000.00 Year Awarded2014 Granting AgencyCanada Research Chairs - CRC (Tier II) Project TitleThe Innovation, Design, and Consumption Laboratory RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$395,736.00 Year Awarded2013 Granting AgencyCanada Foundation for Innovation - CFI Institutional Infrastructure Grant Project TitleHow ‘Functional Foods’ Lead to Over-Consumption RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$92,600.00 Year Awarded2013 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - SSHRC Insight Grant
Marketing with Currency
That crumpled $20 bill in your wallet? You’re more likely to spend it than a crisp one, and Dr. Theodore Noseworthy, Associate Professor in Marketing at the Schulich School of Business, knows why. According to his research, people make inferences based on the visual appearance of currency.
“Much of this has to do with the normative belief that money is dirty, and thus people infer that a bill that looks worn must have been handled more than a bill that looks brand new,” Dr. Noseworthy explains.
Dr. Noseworthy’s research interests are in the area of product categorization and visual processing.
As the Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurial Innovation and the Public Good, his goal is to develop insights that inform business and policy makers about the benefits of properly communicated innovation and the potential costs to susceptible consumers and society.
“My research speaks to how marketers can better communicate product and service innovations to maximize adoption and awareness,” Dr. Noseworthy says.
With funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), he has developed the NOESIS: Innovation, Design and Consumption Laboratory housed at the Schulich School of Business with the specific intent to conduct further high quality research, train personnel, and facilitate knowledge mobilization.