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Beware Christmas shoppers, online first impressions can fool you

Beware Christmas shoppers, online first impressions can fool you

Internet shoppers are more likely to buy if the first product review they encounter is a positive one even if subsequent reviews aren’t as flattering, new University of Melbourne research has found.

Consumer psychologist Dr Brent Coker from the University’s Faculty of Business and Economics conducted the study, which has been published in the current Journal of Economic Psychology.

“Normally we think people will be able to read a stack of reviews and then make an informed choice,” he said.

“But this research indicates the order in which those reviews are read actually has a subconscious effect on the consumer’s mindset, and could skew their product choices and lead to ‘buyers regret’.”

The research — based on experiments carried out on 131 undergraduate and graduate university students — found the accuracy of a final purchasing decision was dependent on what order the reviews were read.

If a consumer read a positive reviews before negative reviews, the positive reviews “contaminated” the reader’s judgement, and made the negative reviews seem “less negative”.

“This can result in a greater chance of regretting a purchase,” Dr Coker said.

“So try not to be swayed by one glowing review as you buy Christmas presents for the family this year, because you may regret not doing your research.”

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