The Role of (Dis)similarity in (Mis)predicting Others' Preferences

Kate Barasz, Tami Kim, Leslie K. John

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Consumers readily indicate that they like options that appear dissimilar- for example, enjoying both rustic lake vacations and chic city vacations, or liking both scholarly documentary films and action-packed thrillers. However, when predicting other consumers' tastes for the same items, people believe that a preference for one precludes enjoyment of the dissimilar other. Five studies show that people sensibly expect others to like similar products, but erroneously expect others to dislike dissimilar ones. While people readily select dissimilar items for themselves (particularly if the dissimilar item is of higher quality than a similar one), they fail to predict this choice for others-even when monetary rewards are at stake. The tendency to infer dislike from dissimilarity is driven by a belief that others have narrow and homogeneous ranges of preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-607
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Perceived similarity
  • Prediction error
  • Preference prediction
  • Self-other difference
  • Social inference


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