[PS-1.91] Why verbalization can ruin your fashion taste: Exploring how productive language processing interferes with decision making

Thoma, D. & Barth, M.

University of Mannheim

When we verbalize perceptually difficult concepts such as unfamiliar faces or taste first, this can harm the quality of our memory and later decisions. After 25 years of research, the causes and moderators of this verbal overshadowing effect (VOE) are still inconclusive. By contrasting two major cognitive theories, we explore content and processing-based explanations for the effect. Four experiments (total N = 552) found a robust VOE in the domain of visually perceived taste. More specifically, verbal evaluation of beauty and fashion products distanced consumers? from industry professionals? preferences. To explore the causes of this VOE, we measured and manipulated conceptual and verbal expertise (knowledge and learning) as well as decision mode (automaticity and priming) in between- and within-subjects designs. We found positive evidence for both theories showing (1) that task-related verbalization renders later decision-making processes less intuitive and (2) that verbalization is increasingly harmful the less conceptual and verbal expertise match. We discuss how these findings can account for the volatility of the effect in previous research. We also translate them to an applied level by showing how video tutorials and interactive games can prevent negative effects of verbalization in online-shopping.