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
Penn State Smeal team finishes second in inaugural Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition 18 Dec Penn State Smeal team finishes second in inaugural Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition

A team of MBA students from the Penn State Smeal College of Business finished second in the inaugural Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition, which the college recently hosted in its Business Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

Rost Named Fall 2014 Smeal Student Marshal 15 Dec Rost Named Fall 2014 Smeal Student Marshal

The Penn State Smeal College of Business has named Daniel Rost as the student marshal for fall 2014.

Final Five Teams to Vie for $17,500 in Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition 01 Dec

Five teams of MBA students from programs in the U.S. will compete Dec. 5 for $17,500 in prize money in the inaugural Penn State Smeal College of Business MBA Sustainability Case Competition.

Businessweek ranks Smeal MBA Program No. 2 in ROI 17 Nov

The Penn State Smeal MBA Program ranks No. 2 in return on investment according to the latest Bloomberg Businessweek rankings.

Smeal Names Four New Members to Its Board of Visitors 31 Oct

The Penn State Smeal College of Business has named four new members to its Board of Visitors. Joining the board are Jon Grosso, ’89, executive vice president and director of stores for Kohl’s Department Stores; Ron Morgan, ’93, co-founder of MorganFranklin Consulting; Stephen Reeves, ’81, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Enviva Holdings; and Salomon “Sal” Sredni, ’87, chief executive officer of TradeStation Group, Inc.

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