IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Consumer Sequential Search: Not Enough or Too Much?

  • Rami Zwick


    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

  • Amnon Rapoport


    (University of Arizona, Management and Policy, P.O. Box 210108, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0108)

  • Alison King Chung Lo


    (Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, Durham, North Carolina 27708-0120)

  • A. V. Muthukrishnan


    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon Hong Kong)

We study sequential search behavior in a generalized "secretary problem" in which a single object is to be selected from a set ofalternatives. Alternatives are inspected in a random order, one at a time, and only the rank order of the current alternative relative to the ones that have already been observed can be ascertained. At each period, the consumer may either accept the current alternative, continue to search and pay a fixed cost, or recall an alternative that has already been inspected. A recalled alternative is assumed to be available with a known probability. The consumer's goal is to select the overall best alternative from the fixed set. We describe the results of an experiment designed to test the optimal model and compare it to a behavioral decision model that incorporates local patterns of the observed sequence. Both set size and search cost are manipulated experimentally in a 2x2 factorial design. Our results show that cost and set size affect the amount of search in the predicted direction. However, in the two no-cost conditions subjects search too little in comparison to the optimal model, whereas in the two cost conditions they search too much. The behavioral decision rule that we propose provides a possible account for the observed pattern of the behavioral regularities.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Marketing Science.

Volume (Year): 22 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 503-519

in new window

Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:22:y:2003:i:4:p:503-519
Contact details of provider: Postal:
7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA

Phone: +1-443-757-3500
Fax: 443-757-3515
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:22:y:2003:i:4:p:503-519. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.