In this paper, we aim to understand why consumers often prefer products made using traditional practices even when products made using new practices are not of lower quality. We argue that this resistance, which we call “production process conservatism,” is heightened when the product is used in the performance of a social ritual. We develop this argument in the context of diamond jewelry, as consumers have generally been resistant to diamonds that are produced in laboratories, i.e., lab-created diamonds. Hypotheses were tested using experiments conducted with an online sample (Experiment 1) and with an MBA student sample (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, we find that married female respondents significantly prefer mined diamonds to lab-created diamonds when they are used as part of an engagement gift as opposed to a more routine gift. In Experiment 2, we find the same effect among women; in addition, the perceived risk associated with the ritual is found to mediate this production process conservatism. This paper contributes to the understanding of a macrosocial phenomenon – acceptance of an innovation – by examining microinteractive processes in groups.This paper develops an original theory that when individuals deviate from traditional aspects of rituals, they risk signaling a lack of commitment or cultural competence to the group even when such aspects are not explicitly stated.
Jaekyung Ha, Renée Gosline, Ezra Zuckerman Sivan. 2018. “Can a Girl’s Best Friend be Born in a Lab?” The Role of Ritual in Production Process Conservatism, Advances in Group Processes, 35:1-27. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S0882-614520180000035001/full/html