Whereas the Internet itself poses unique challenges and opportunities, it is possible that the context of the Internet (a computer context) affects consumers differently than other contexts would, thereby causing people to think about and evaluate products differently. Drawing from learning theory and the functional theory of attitudes, it is predicted that computers, by being associated with the accessibility of detailed information, will elicit a need for meaning. Consequently, when a computer is present, people may think about and seek more product information than will those evaluating the product on paper (a print context). The results of an experiment support these hypotheses. Across two diverse products, the mere presence of a computer caused people to think more about and request more information about the product than those in the print context did. Furthermore, the attitudes of those in the computer context were more representative of both dimensions described in the advertisement, whereas the attitudes of those in the print context reflected the valence of the dimension that is typically used when evaluating the product. Implications for promoting products and conducting market research in computer environments are discussed.
Schlosser, A. E. (2003). Computers as Situational Cues: Implications for Consumers Product Cognitions and Attitudes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13(1), 103–112. https://doi.org/10.1207/153276603768344825