Consumer reactions to professionals who use decision aids
Article publication date: 13 April 2015
The purpose of this study is to investigate consumer reactions to professionals who use decision aids to make recommendations. The authors propose that people react negatively to decision aids only when they are used in place of human expert judgment. When used in combination with expert judgment, decision aids are not perceived negatively and may even enhance service evaluations.
Three online experiments are presented. Participants indicated their perceptions regarding the recommendation strategy of professionals and their impressions of these professionals using one of three strategies: one based on expertise only, one based on decision aids only and a combination of the two (hybrid approach). Both within and between-subjects designs were used.
Contrary to previous research that has found a negative reaction to professionals who use decision aids, the authors find that consumers actually appreciate these professionals, as long as the use of decision aids does not replace expert judgment. The authors also find that when people are given the opportunity to compare a pure expert judgment approach with a hybrid approach (decision aid in combination with expert judgment), they prefer the latter.
Although findings should extend to various contexts, this research is limited to the three contexts examined and to the type of use of decision aid described.
It has significant practical implication, as decision aids have been shown to improve decision accuracy, but previous research had indicated that consumers view these professionals in a negative way. The current research more clearly delineates the situations under which negative reactions are likely to occur and makes recommendations regarding circumstances in which reactions are actually quite positive.
Reactions to professionals using decision aids have been investigated outside the marketing literature. However, this is the first work to show that consumers actually have positive reactions to professionals using decision aids, as long as they do not replace expert judgment.
The authors thank the reviewers and the associate editor for their helpful comments throughout the review process.
Palmeira, M. and Spassova, G. (2015), "Consumer reactions to professionals who use decision aids", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 49 No. 3/4, pp. 302-326. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-07-2013-0390
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