The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of the presence and type of product symbol on online users' information search behaviour. Adopting an information processing perspective, it gathers objective and self‐reported measures and investigates the relationships between them.
An experiment was conducted with a sample of 174 individuals. The presence of a symbol recommending the product or signalling its popularity within the website was manipulated. Participants' need for cognition was measured.
The presence of a product symbol positively influenced users' cognitive elaboration and perceptions of information diagnosticity. Significant differences of situational and individual characteristics, related to the type of symbol and the users' motivation to process information, were detected.
Dual information processing theories represent an adequate framework to analyse the ways in which online users perceive and process product symbols, and how they incorporate them into their diagnosticity perceptions. The presence and type of product symbols operate through different mechanisms depending on the user's need for cognition. Web designers should consider displaying these cues in online product presentations, given their potential to improve the quality of consumers' thoughts and diagnosticity perceptions.
This is one of the first studies which examines how product symbols affect online users' information processing and evaluations. The paper offers a complete view of online information search behaviour by gathering users' objective and self‐reported measures. In addition the paper stresses the importance of contextual variables related to the messages and individual's characteristics.
Gurrea, R., Orús, C. and Flavián, C. (2013), "The role of symbols signalling the product status on online users' information processing", Online Information Review, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 8-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684521311311603
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