Marketing Group Research Seminar Series: Duality of Suspense: The Impact of Spoilers on Consumption Decisions

Speaker: Liz Miller, Associate Professor in Marketing at UMass Amherst
Location: 420 Hayden Hall

Liz Miller will deliver "Duality of Suspense: The Impact of Spoilers on Consumption Decisions" as part of the Marketing Group Research Seminar Series.

Abstract: Suspense plays an important role in many consumption decisions, particularly those related to entertainment. However, with the advent of social media and increased accessibility to information, consumers frequently are exposed to the outcome of TV programs before viewing them. Under what conditions does the exposure to such outcome knowledge (or spoilers) reduce suspense and consequent consumption likelihood? In answering this question, we identify a duality of suspense where “outcome suspense” refers to uncertainty caused by what an outcome is, while “process suspense” refers to uncertainty about how that outcome came to be. Across three experiments, we show that spoilers (outcome knowledge) spoil (reduce consumption likelihood) only in situations in which outcome suspense and process suspense are highly correlated (high outcome-process dependency). Further, we show that the relationship between outcome suspense and process suspense varies by context, in turn, affecting the nature of suspense and viewing decisions. Our findings contribute to an increased understanding of the drivers of suspense.

Lunch will be served at 11:45 with RSVP.