Essays on Consumers and Numbers

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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This dissertation focuses on the relationship that consumers have with different forms of numerical information. Numbers can be considered as a universal language. They are used to quantify a host of attributes within the consumer environment, and they often serve as important cues for decisions that
consumers make across different facets of their lives. This dissertation aims to show that consumers’ relationship with numbers is in fact complex and nuanced—it cannot solely be viewed from a normative, mathematical perspective. That is, while numbers inherently hold objective value and meaning, admittedly
subjective perceptions may frequently prevail. Relatedly, interpretation of numerical information is also largely malleable, in that a variety of different factors may distort how numerical figures may be perceived.
The first chapter focuses on numerical information in the form of historical prices. Upon observing historic price information, while controlling for absolute magnitude of changes, consumers’ decision to make or defer purchase crucially depends on the interaction between the frequency and direction of
observed changes. The second chapter focuses on numerical information that is dynamic in nature. It is found that consumers tend to perceive an identical numerical value as larger when it stems from a more frequently updated source, versus less frequent. The third chapter focuses on numerical information that
is embedded within task instructions, specifically whether they are framed as expected output versus input. Constructing task instructions in terms of expected output leads to greater motivation during a task, compared to using input-based framing.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Puntoni, Stefano, Supervisor
  • Van den Bergh, Bram, Co-supervisor
Award date15 Dec 2022
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-90-5892-644-9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022


  • ERIM PhD Series Research in Management


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