You are here: Home / News Release Archives / 2014 / January / How Bias Influences Information Evaluation in Decision-Making

How Bias Influences Information Evaluation in Decision-Making

Recent research from Penn State Smeal College of Business Marketing Professor Meg Meloy, along with colleagues from Georgetown University, examines how individuals distort information to make decisions.
January 28, 2014

Recent research from Penn State Smeal College of Business Marketing Professor Meg Meloy, along with colleagues from Georgetown University, examines how individuals distort information to make decisions.

When presented with a set of many options, individuals will rapidly select a tentatively preferred option. As individuals seek additional information to solidify their choice, past research has shown that consumers will view incoming information about their tentatively preferred option with a positive bias.

“The best case scenario is that you’re the early leader. If, however, you’re one of the less attractive options, you need to do everything you can to make sure you’re in second place.”

In “Biased Predecisional Processing of Leading and Non-Leading Alternatives,” Meloy and her colleagues Kurt A. Carlson and Smeal Ph.D. graduate Simon J. Blanchard ’11g of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business found that consumers also distort information to disparage the remaining options. Their paper is forthcoming in Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“When individuals have only two choices, they’ll distort information positively in favor of the one they are leaning toward buying and distort information negatively about the less preferred option, almost as if they are trying to differentiate the alternatives in their mind,” said Meloy.

However, the researchers found that the process of narrowing down a larger set of choices is more complex.

“When individuals have many choices, they’ll quickly pick out a tentative leader. At the same time, a back-up option also emerges. This is the option they see as the best substitute for that leader,” said Meloy. “The individual will then positively bias information about the leader, continue to negatively bias information about the other trailing alternatives, but apply no bias to the back-up.”

These patterns have implications for how product marketers, or even political candidates, might manage the choice environment when individuals are confronted with multiple choices.

“It’s important to get the best possible information about your brand out there quickly,” said Meloy. “The best case scenario is that you’re the early leader. If, however, you’re one of the less attractive options, you need to do everything you can to make sure you’re in second place.”

She continued, “If you’re the second place trailer and you present stellar information about your brand close to when the final decision is being made, you might be able to switch places with the leader.”

Filed under: , ,
Recent News
DelGrosso Foods' Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing Brings Real-Life Case Study to Marketing Class 16 Apr

Michael DelGrosso, vice president of global sales and marketing at DelGrosso Foods, provided several Penn State Smeal College of Business Marketing 422 Advertising and Promotions Management classes with a unique view of a new product launch last month.

Smeal College Celebrates Philanthropy 15 Apr

Alumni and friends of the Penn State Smeal College of Business gathered at the Business Building on April 11 to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on students and faculty. The college’s annual Leaders Celebration acknowledges the outstanding generosity of donors who provide student scholarships, enhance physical resources and technology, support faculty research, and more.

Smeal Undergraduate Net Impact Chapter and Honors Society Beta Alpha Psi Partner with KPMG to Fight Illiteracy 14 Apr

Earlier this semester, the Penn State Smeal College of Business Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter partnered with KPMG, Accounting and Finance honors society Beta Alpha Psi, and First Book for a corporate social responsibility event providing 200 children at Penns Valley Elementary School in Spring Mills, Pa., with books and a day of literacy activities.

Smeal College of Business Mourns Alumnus, Philanthropist John Garber 11 Apr

John D. Garber ’40 passed away last month in Palm Desert, Calif. He and his wife, Bette, were significant contributors to the Penn State Smeal College of Business, establishing the John and Bette Garber Venture Capital Center for Penn State Smeal MBA students in 1999.

Students Organize, Manage Major Women's Conference on Campus 10 Apr

The annual Powerful Women Paving the Way conference—last year’s Penn State Outstanding Program of the Year—is well-attended by both women students and professionals. But what many people don’t know is that it is student-run and organized.

More Recent News... More Recent News...