Study: Information order shapes bias

January 30, 2006

Duke University scientists say they've determined consumers are likely to give support to a brand that first appears to show superiority in its category.

The researchers say they looked at a previously unexplored market phenomenon: the powerful influence of "leader-driven primacy" on consumer choice.

"Our research shows how information order can be used to create a tentative preference for one option over another," explain the researchers. "Once a leader emerges, consumers build support for it by biasing their interpretation of new information to favor it. The consequence of this process is that it is possible to dictate which brand consumers ultimately select, merely by changing the order of the information."

The team examined leader-driven primacy using backpacks, winter coats and restaurants. In one study, two options were intentionally made to be equivalent overall. In another, one choice was markedly superior. In both studies, the researchers were able to influence which brand was favored, noting "this is the first paper to show that information order can be used to influence choice in such a way."

The research will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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