What is it about?

While shaping aesthetic judgment and choice, socially constructed authenticity takes on some very different meanings among observers, consumers, producers and critics. Using a theoretical framework positing four distinct meanings of socially constructed authenticity–type, moral, craft, and idiosyncratic–we aim to document empirically the unique appeal of each type. We develop predictions about the relationships between attributed authenticity and corresponding increases in the value ascribed to it through: (1) consumer value ratings, (2) willingness to pay, and (3) behavioral choice. We report empirical analyses from a research program of three multi-method studies using (1) archival data from voluntary consumer evaluations of restaurants in an online review system, (2) a university-based behavioral lab experiment, and (3) an online survey-based experiment. Evidence is consistent across the studies and suggests that perceptions of four distinct subtypes of socially constructed authenticity generate increased appeal and value even after controlling for option quality. Findings suggest additional directions for research on authenticity.

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Why is it important?

Consumers and analysts often use very different meanings of authenticity without understanding they are doing so. It is important for communication and for analysis for meanings to be clarified.


The article will hopefully help to straighten out some messy aspects of the literature, theory and research.

The Adams Distinguished Professor of Management Glenn R Carroll
Stanford University

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This page is a summary of: Disambiguating authenticity: Interpretations of value and appeal, PLoS ONE, June 2017, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179187.
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