This is how you avoid online shopping #fails
So it turns out even in the world of online shopping popularity rules. And just like IRL, where popularity is not always an indicator of a quality person but often the opposite, with the most 'popular' person a low-quality bully ruling through fear à la Regina George from Mean Girls - we often make regrettable online shopping #fail decisions because we buy based on number not quality of reviews.
This bias was discovered in a recent study published in Pscyhological Science which looked at "...how people's interpretation of online review scores is influenced by the numbers of reviews - a potential indicator both of an item's popularity and of the precision of the average review score." The study had participants use everything store Amazon.com as the basis for their research.
Lead author of the study, Stanford University's Derek Powell said in the article, "We found that people were biased toward choosing to purchase more popular products and that this sometimes led them to make very poor decisions."
The participants based their 'poor' decisions on the number of reviews and didn't take into account the actual rating of the product - so for example they would select a product with a two star rating and 20 reviews over a similar product with a three star rating but less than ten reviews. Which when you do the maths doesn't add up - why go for a lower quality product just because more people made the mistake of buying it?
To avoid the high price (monetary and mental guilt) of buying something you're not going to wear/use which is going directly from the box to the rubbish bin Powell says, "Our data suggests that retailers might need to rethink how reviews are presented and consumers might need to do more to educate themselves about how to use reviews to guide their choices." The catchphrase 'make good choices' never rang so true.
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