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The impact of interface characteristics in product evaluation portals on information selection, processing, and contribution

Project description

Product evaluations portals provide Internet users with rich information about all sorts of products consisting of aggregating ratings with means and charts as well as numerous reviews. The contribution and reception of the reviews is an intellectually demanding task that is prone to all sorts of cognitive and social biases. This project will study how users are influenced by others’ evaluations and reviews during information reception from and contribution to these portals. Based on psychological research and theorizing, the impact of three interface features will be studied: (a) the order of summary statistics and reviews, (b) the blocked vs. alternating selection and reading of reviews, and (c) distribution of evaluations presented in charts. On the outcome side, the focus will be on (dis-)confirmation of users’ initial attitudes regarding (1) information selection, (2) information processing, and (3) information contribution (i.e., will the selected, processed, and contributed information be primarily in line with or contradict users’ initial opinion). Lab and online experiments will be conducted and multinominal modelling will be applied to test the impact of the separate interface characteristics (a-c) on behavior, self-report, and process measures. Based on the results from these studies, an optimized interface will be implemented and compared to a standard design of existing product evaluation portals – a step towards testing the applied implications of the research findings and, thus, the basis for its transfer. Beside these practical implications, the results will also inform theorizing about the separation of selective exposure and confirmatory information processing as well as about the determinants of confirmatory tendencies in contributions.

Project Team