Trust your gut feeling about buying car or TV, or flat

January 27th, 2009 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 27 (IANS) Better trust your gut feeling about buying a new car or TV rather than deliberating too much over the choice - or you will end up regretting your less than sound judgment, researchers say.”Whether evaluating abstract objects (Chinese ideograms) or actual consumer items (paintings, apartments, and jellybeans), people who deliberated on their preferences were less consistent than those who made non-deliberative judgments,” wrote Loran F. Nordgren of Northwestern University and Ap Dijksterhuis of Radboud University, the Netherlands, in their study.

In a set of five separate studies, researchers found that better judgments can often be made without deliberation. In the first study, participants rated Chinese ideograms for attractiveness, a Northwestern University release said.

In a following study, participants were asked to judge paintings that were widely considered high- or low-quality. Subsequent groups of participants rated jellybeans and apartments. In all the studies, some participants were encouraged to deliberate and others to go with their gut.

The more complex the decision, the less useful deliberation became. For example, when participants rated apartments on just three primary characteristics (location, price, and size) deliberation proved useful.

But when the decision became more complex (with nine characteristics), the participants who deliberated made worse decisions.

The authors believe this study has consequences for the marketplace. “If deliberative attention naturally gravitates toward highly salient or novel aspects of an object, marketers might use a deliberative mindset to focus consumers’ attention toward particular aspects,” explained the authors.

“For example, if a car boasts one particularly good feature (for example, safety) but has a number of other negative features (for example, expensive, bad gas mileage, poor handling), a car salesman might encourage a potential car buyer to deliberate over the pros and cons of the car, while at the same time emphasising the importance of safety,” the authors said.

“In this way, the disturbed weighting of attributes created by deliberation might be used to highlight the one sellable feature and draw attention away from the unattractive features,” wrote the authors.

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