How Technology Shapes Consumption: Implications for identity and judgement Defended on Thursday, 27 June 2019

The goal of this dissertation is to explore the interplay between technology and consumer behavior. Specifically, it examines how technology affects the way we form our sense of self and update our beliefs.

Chapter 2 tests the role of identity in preferences for automated products, such as automatic transmission in driving or cooking machines in cooking. Although automation often provides obvious consumption benefits, six studies spanning a variety of product categories demonstrate that individuals who strongly identify with a particular social category resist automated features when these features hinder the attribution of identity-relevant consumption outcomes to oneself.

Chapter 3 examines how search engines shape belief updating. People increasingly rely on search engines to answer their questions (e.g., health, financial, political). A series of studies show that people’s beliefs are biased by the search terms they use and broadening searches leads to greater and more comprehensive updating of consumers’ beliefs.

Chapter 4 investigates the role of identity in preference for material products. Many products are dematerializing (e.g., e-books, digital music download). However, despite the indisputable benefits of dematerialization, we find that material products (e.g., physical books) are better able to provide identity benefits than immaterial products (e.g., e-books), and identity-motivated consumers have a relative preference for material products.

Chapter 5 argues that technology can both facilitate and hinder the process of self-verification—that is, how people monitor their progress toward being a particular type of person. Five different technological domains are explored, namely, Internet, dematerialization, automation, artificial intelligence, and human enhancement.


Automation, dematerialization, search engines, Google, identity, technology, consumption

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