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Working group

The Stickiness of Category Labels

Audience Perception and Evaluation of Change in Creative Markets

Add to calendar 2022-06-01 14:15 2022-06-01 16:00 Europe/Rome The Stickiness of Category Labels Seminar Room 2 Badia Fiesolana YYYY-MM-DD


01 June 2022

14:15 - 16:00 CEST


Seminar Room 2

Badia Fiesolana

In the framework of the EUI Analytical Sociology Colloquia, this session features a presentation by Professor Balázs Kovács (Yale School of Management).

In creative markets, producers often seek to expand their repertoires by positioning themselves and their offerings in different categories over time. Successful repositioning is difficult, however, as audiences tend to devalue offerings that depart from a producer’s past creations. Prior research suggests that this penalty arises as audiences perceive offerings from producers who have repositioned to be inferior.

In this paper, we develop understanding of another possible factor contributing to devaluation: evaluators may be prone to categorical stickiness, where the categories they associate with a producer through its prior offerings anchor their perceptions of the producer’s future offerings. As a result, there is a mismatch between the producer’s new positioning and the audiences’ expectations. We propose that this mechanism may be differentially at play depending on the amount of prior experience evaluators have with a producer. In particular, those audience members who have the greatest prior experience with a producer are expected to be the least likely to fully recognize its repositioning efforts. We test our theory using data from on authors within the book publishing industry, 2007-2017. We first build a novel deep-learning framework to predict categorisation of a given book based solely on an author’s description of its content. We then use data on how Goodreads users categorise and evaluate books, as well as their past reading behaviour, to test for evidence of our proposed mechanism. Overall, our results extend understanding of the evaluative processes that generate categorical constraints and how these may differ among various types of audience members.

Authors: Balázs Kovács, Greta Hsu, and Amanda Sharkey


Claudia Fanti


Prof. Balázs Kovács (Yale School of Management)

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