With sharing economy and access-based consumption, consumers increasingly access goods through social access modes other than private ownership—such as co-ownership, leasing, or borrowing. Prior research focuses on consumers’ attitudinal motivations and consumption-cultural use experiences pertaining to such social exchange–based access modes. In so doing, prior research has overlooked the influence that consumers’ fundamental, even biologically shaped, cognitive traits may have on their choice of access modes. To fill this research gap, this study analyzes a data set of more than 30,000 new car registrations by male consumers in Finland, including cognitive test data from the Finnish Defense Forces and covariates from other governmental sources. The field data suggests that consumers’ intelligence scores and their choice to co-own and lease their cars are positively associated. Econometric evidence further suggests that the association between intelligence and choice of social exchange–based access modes can be explained by intelligent consumers’ higher social trust in people and institutions, as well as two circumstantial mechanisms: their financial standing and tendency to seek savings. The findings from the field data are supported by an additional survey study (n = 460). Implications for the evolution of markets and consumption, as well as human intelligence and cooperation, are discussed.
- Business, Markets and Societal Dynamics
- cognitive ability
- social exchange
- Customers and Relations
- 512 Business and Management