Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration




Business Administration

First Advisor

Daniel A. Sheinin


This research investigates how consumer evaluations are shaped towards products that highlight either presence or absence of attributes that are unknown to consumers. Participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk online panel and randomly assigned to a variety of experimental conditions in four studies. Results of Study 1 show that, under the low brand trust condition, consumers have more positive evaluations of products with absence positioning than presence positioning. Study 1 results also show that under the high brand trust condition, the disjunctive gap between the absence versus presence positioning closes. In Study 2, these results are extended by utilizing a product from another category to investigate the process variable in the previously observed effect. Results of Study 2 show perceived risk to be a mediator in a moderated mediation model, such that, the indirect effect of ingredient positioning through perceived risk was significant when brand trust was low but not significant when brand trust was high. In Study 3, these results are advanced by investigating the probable interactions between ingredient positioning, brand trust and need for cognition (NFC). As an additional finding, Study 3 results identifies a two-way interaction between ingredient positioning and NFC. In the final study, diagnosticity level of the main message is operationalized as an additional variable, generating a three-way interaction between unknown ingredient positioning, NFC and message diagnosticity. This dissertation makes significant contributions to research on attribute positioning, risk perception, need for cognition and message diagnosticity. It provides important managerial implications as well.

Available for download on Friday, May 21, 2021