Ever after: a price story – afterlife belief salience’s effect on willingness to pay

Huimin Xu, Ada Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to advance understanding regarding a particular religious belief and buying behavior. Design/methodology/approach: Two online experiments were conducted among diverse respondents. Study 1 used a one-way, between-subjects design with three conditions: afterlife salience, control and mortality salience. The dependent measure was built on the notion of first-price sealed-bid auction. Study 2 used a similar procedure with two conditions: afterlife salience and control. Mortality was made salient in both conditions. Findings: Making afterlife salient boosted the willingness to pay. This effect did not result from mortality salience, which suggests that this research is a unique contribution beyond works rooted in Terror Management Theory. This effect was mediated through positive product thoughts. Originality/value: There has long been an imbalance between theoretical speculation concerning religion and cognition and actual empirical documentation. The present research adds to the emerging body of empirical investigations into this relation. It contributes to the conceptual richness of the stream of literature by examining one aspect of religiosity that has rarely been studied: the belief in afterlife. In addition, the findings go beyond correlational patterns toward discovering nonobvious cause and effect. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is one of the few works that experimentally manipulate the notion of afterlife belief. This research also extends the understanding of pricing and willingness to pay by identifying a subtle environmental influence not recognized before.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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