Underpredicting Learning after Initial Experience with a Product
For products that require skills to use, such as computers, cell phones, and sports equipment, consumers’ purchase and usage decisions often depend on their prediction of the speed with which they will master the relevant skills. In this article, we identify a systematic pessimism in predictions of such skill learning occurring in the initial skill-acquisition phase of product use. After initially trying new products, people underpredict how quickly they will acquire the skills required for product use. Further, we find that this underprediction of learning is due to a failure to appreciate how rapidly task experience leads to a shift from system 2 to system 1 processing. In six experiments, we document the effect, examine its generality across several tasks, and demonstrate its consequences for product devaluation and abandonment. We conclude with a discussion of implications for customer service, promotions, and the design of new products.
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