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The unintended effects of hidden assumptions: biases on the internet

Hernan Riquelme (Senior Lecturer, School of Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Wang Kegeng (Postgraduate Student, School of Marketing, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



The presence of cues embedded in the online environment influence how consumers interpret information and eventually make a decision. These cues can be biased, thus affecting decision quality. The aims of the research study were to identify sources of biases of different web sites, to identify how frequently they are observed, and to investigate to what extent these biases are more or less present across different online businesses. A sample of 93 Australian web sites was evaluated along the presence or absence of biases in rating of stores and products with which they deal, information on price and cost of products, information on seals or logo endorsements, and paid inclusion or advertising in search results. On average, one third of the web sites that posted price information were biased. Of those web sites that used seals and logo endorsements, about half did not provide much information of what the logo stood for. About 68 percent of shopping guide search engines do not adhere to the recommendation of disclosing payment for inclusion. Online businesses may want to consider the implications of conveying incomplete information that may mislead consumers.



Riquelme, H. and Kegeng, W. (2004), "The unintended effects of hidden assumptions: biases on the internet", Online Information Review, Vol. 28 No. 6, pp. 444-453.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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