Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Sajeev Varki, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anand Kumar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Lafferty, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Bosson, Ph.D.


Construal level, Distinction bias, Evaluation mode, Information processing, Social influence


This dissertation demonstrates how categorization mindsets (introduced by Ulkumen et al., 2010) moderate the altruistic behavior of consumers in decisions that have consequences to others besides oneself. Categorization mindset refers to a way of thinking about options, and is induced by simple sorting or categorization tasks. Ulkumen et al. (2010) has shown that mindsets can be unidimensional (in terms of being focused on a single, salient dimension) or multidimensional (in that both salient and non-salient dimensions are processed). Across three experiments, this dissertation finds that a multidimensional mindset (compared to a unidimensional mindset) enhances the preference for other-oriented options among highly altruistic individuals, but enhances the preference toward self-oriented options among less altruistic individuals. An investigation of the process underlying the results reveals that the interaction between mindset and altruism results from what we describe as the “breadth of processing route.” This route suggests that multi-dimensional mindsets activates a comparative mode since both salient (self-outcome) and non-salient (other-outcome) dimensions are processed simultaneously, while unidimensional mindsets activate a non-comparative mode given that only the salient dimension of self-outcome is processed. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the substantive and managerial implications along with suggestions for future research.