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Lady luck: Anthropomorphized luck creates perceptions of risk-sharing and drives pursuit of risky alternatives

Katina Kulow, PhD Kramer, T. Bentely, K.
Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. May 18, 2021

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We examine decision-making under risk as a function of the degree to which consumers anthropomorphize their luck. We propose that consumers make riskier financial decisions when they anthropomorphize (vs. objectify) their luck and that this effect occurs because humanizing luck engenders a perceived sharing of risk in the presence of “lady luck.” A series of experiments shows that consumers among whom anthropomorphized versus objectified luck is salient display greater risk-taking in financial, but not social, decisions. These effects are heightened among consumers who frequently engage in risky decision-making and are driven by perceptions of risk-sharing produced by anthropomorphized luck. Collectively, these findings document how anthropomorphizing luck can influence consumers’ decision-making within the financial domain. We discuss important consumer welfare implications associated with the negative consequences that result from repeated detrimental consumer behaviors, particularly given the pervasive use of anthropomorphized luck by marketers in the gambling domain.