Similarity as a double-edged sword: The positive and negative effects of showcasing similar previous winners on perceived likelihood of winning in sweepstakes (Published Online)
Publication typeArticle in academic journal
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
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AbstractThis research demonstrates a new effect of consumer similarity in a chance context. Six studies show how similarity with previous winners can positively or negatively affect potential participants’ perceived likelihood of winning the subsequent independent sweepstakes draw. Attributions of winning outcomes to a personal cause or randomness change potential participants’ expectations regarding the sequence of more or less similar winners. When personal attribution is prevalent, exposure to more (vs. less) similar winners causes potential participants to feel they are more likely to win and, as a consequence, judge the sweepstakes as more attractive. This positive effect of similarity is mediated by the expectation of more repetitions of similar winners consistent with the belief that luck can be transferred among similar people. When randomness is presented as the salient cause for winning, though, people’s subjective conception of randomness leads them to expect more alternations in the sequence of more and less similar winners, thus prompting a reversal of the similarity effect. That is, they feel less likely to win when the sweepstakes features a more compared to a less similar winner.
KeywordSimilarity, Perceived Likelihood of Winning, Sweepstakes, Hot Hand Fallacy, Gambler’s Fallacy, Sympathetic Magic