When recommendation agents influence decisions: The power of recommendation sets
Today, most online vendors provide assistance of a Recommendation Agent (RA) to help consumers to process information and make product decisions. When consumers tend to rely on these RAs in their decision process, they open a potential gateway to influence and manipulation. Many papers are dedicated to the subject of RAs. However, these studies are either mainly focused on the underlying algorithms of RAs or they are especially focused on the usefulness of RAs to consumers and in what way consumers respond to these systems. The objective of the current study was to examine the effects different recommendation sets have on consumer decision making in an online environment with the use of a RA. The results of this study indicate that the use of different recommendation sets has a substantial impact on consumers’ product choice, decision effort, decision quality, satisfaction, and choice deferral. These findings suggest that consumers’ choice preferences indeed can be influenced in a systematic manner by altering the set of recommendations and the context in which these alternatives are presented.