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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding online consumers' utilization of multiple advice sources Kim, Hongki


As increasing numbers of online stores provide multiple advice sources and increasing numbers of shoppers access these sources on the Internet, shoppers develop decision-making strategies to manage a wide variety of information, some of it conflicting. By identifying these decision-making strategies, information system scholars have developed theoretical foundations for designing decision aids. However, few studies have investigated two important aspects: i) online shoppers’ new decision- making strategies in using multiple advice sources that offer diverse opinions; and ii) new decision aids that support such decision-making strategies. My research addresses this gap and consists of three laboratory-based studies. Study #1 identifies new consistency strategies that embed consistency as a key heuristic through verbal protocol analysis. It also shows that online shoppers use consistency strategies to identify products that deserve to be examined and support their belief in the quality of the products. Study #2 proposes consistency distance identification tools (CDITs) that present objective consistency/inconsistency measures as graphical representations. It also finds that the impact of the CDITs on decision quality and efforts is contingent on the fit between shoppers’ trustworthiness of advice sources, their goals in building a low/high level of understanding of advice sources and products, and the functionalities of the CDITs in supporting shoppers’ task and/or goals in the lab experiments. Study #3 proposes inconsistency reduction tools that clarify why advice sources are inconsistent by identifying the differences of preferences between the online shopper and advice sources, as well as facilitating interactions with a recommendation agent (RA). My research reveals two major findings: i) inconsistency among advice sources increases not only online shoppers’ attribution to the RA, but also the perceived incompetence and deceptiveness of the RA; and ii) utilization of inconsistency reduction tools decreases such online shoppers’ reactions to inconsistency among advice sources.

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