Recommendations, credits and discounts : essays in behavioral decision making
Sloan School of Management.
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Essay 1: Translation Errors in the Aggregation of Consumer Recommendations There has been a substantial increase of websites providing consumers with recommendations about products and services. These recommendations are usually presented in the form of verbal reviews and numerical ratings. It is assumed implicitly that consumers can integrate adequately the information across the two presentation modes (verbal and numerical). However, research on the effects of compatibility between stimulus and response formats suggests that preference consistency is higher (lower) in cases of compatible (non-compatible) formats, implying that information aggregation across the two modes may be sub-optimal. The results of three experiments confirm this conjecture. Information aggregation and preference reversals were systematically affected by the compatibility of the stimulus and response format. Decision makers were not aware of this effect. Essay 2: The Researcher as a Consumer of Scientific Publications: How Do Name Ordering Conventions Affect Inferences About Contribution Credits? When researchers from different fields with different norms collaborate, the question arises how name ordering conventions are chosen, and how they affect contribution credits. In this paper we answer these questions by studying two disciplines that exemplify the two cornerstones of name ordering conventions: Lexicographical ordering (i.e., alphabetical ordering, endorsed in economics) and non-lexicographical ordering (i.e., ordering according to individual contributions, endorsed in psychology). Inferences about credits are unambiguous in the latter arrangement, but imperfect in the former, because alphabetical listing can reflect ordering according to individual contributions by chance. We contrast the fields of economics and psychology with marketing, a discipline heavily influenced by both.(cont.) Based on archival data, consisting of more than 38,000 journal articles, we show that the three fields have different ordering practices. In two empirical studies, with 351 faculty and graduate student participants from all three disciplines, as well as in a computer simulation, we show that ordering practices systematically affect and shape the allocation of perceived contributions and credit. While strong disciplinary norms in economics and psychology govern the allocation of contribution credits, a more heterogeneous picture emerges for marketing. This lack of strong norms has detrimental effects in terms of assigned contribution credits. Essay 3: Performance-Contingent Discounts and Consumer Choice Incentives affect individuals' attitudes and behaviors in a myriad of ways. In this paper we explore the effects of performance-contingent discounts on consumer choice. For that purpose we set up an online store for digital cameras. Half the subjects received a fixed rebate; the other half had to "earn" their rebate by learning about the products offered. The more information subjects remembered, as inferred from their answers to a short quiz, the higher their discounts. Our results indicate that subjects, who were offered performance-contingent discounts, found the online store more informative and reputable, were more likely to recommend the store to their friends, and were more likely to buy. The results cannot be attributed to a better performance in the quiz or a more thorough exploration of the products offered.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2009.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentSloan School of Management.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management.