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Darren Dahl (Editor in Chief)Eileen FischerGita JoharVicki Morwitz

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Controlling the Information Flow: Effects on Consumers' Decision Making and Preferences

Dan Ariely
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/314322 233-248 First published online: 1 September 2000


One of the main objectives facing marketers is to present consumers with information on which to base their decisions. In doing so, marketers have to select the type of information system they want to utilize in order to deliver the most appropriate information to their consumers. One of the most interesting and distinguishing dimensions of such information systems is the level of control the consumer has over the information system. The current work presents and tests a general model for understanding the advantages and disadvantages of information control on consumers' decision quality, memory, knowledge, and confidence. The results show that controlling the information flow can help consumers better match their preferences, have better memory and knowledge about the domain they are examining, and be more confident in their judgments. However, it is also shown that controlling the information flow creates demands on processing resources and therefore under some circumstances can have detrimental effects on consumers' ability to utilize information. The article concludes with a summary of the findings, discussion of their application for electronic commerce, and suggestions for future research avenues.

  • Attention
  • Behavioral decision theory
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Experimental design and analysis
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