Does greater product information actually inform consumer decisions? The relationship between product information quantity and diversity of consumer decisions
For many consumer goods, the advent of online markets dramatically increases the amount of information available about products' different features and qualities. Although numerous studies have investigated the effects of information quantity on individual-level decisions, it is still unknown how the amount of attribute information affects group-level patterns of behavior, particularly when consumers are also aware of a choice's popularity. In the present studies, we hypothesized that when attribute information increases, it may exceed the individual's cognitive capacity to process this information, and as a result conformity - choosing the most popular item - becomes more likely. In this study, we first examined empirical data collected from human subject experiments in a simulated online shopping experience, and then developed an agent-based model (ABM) to explore this behavioral clustering. Both studies confirmed our primary hypotheses, and the ABM shows promise as a tool for exploring extensions of these ideas.
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