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Allison Yamanashi, Kelly Chang, David Whitney; Fleeting impressions of economic value via summary statistical representations. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.12.1170.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Glance at any supermarket or department store, and you will notice groups of products (stacks of produce, cans of food, racks of clothes etc). When customers view market displays, are they able to evaluate the price of the group as a whole? Or do they simply search through the crowd assessing the value of individual objects? Importantly, if observers were able to evaluate the ensemble price of a group of objects efficiently, this could be a useful function for strategic shopping, guiding search for particular objects, and for forming preferences. To test ensemble price sensitivity, twenty participants first estimated the prices of individual products from two major retailers. The results yielded high inter-rater reliability and high correlations with the retailers' listed prices. Next, we created groups of 6 objects (drawn from the rated products), and displayed these groups to new, independent participants for 1 second. Participants reported their perceived average price of each group. There was a high correlation between the average price based on single-product estimates (from independent observers) and the estimates of group price in the ensemble experiment. Our findings were robust across different displays (spatial and temporal groups) and across stimulus sets containing a variety of price ranges. Subjects integrated several objects into their ensemble price estimates, confirming that the visual impressions of value reflected a summary statistical representation. Interestingly, we also observed that ensemble coding biased participants' price evaluations: the perceived price of object groups was amplified compared to the average of the single items. Previous research investigated price evaluations when consumers are given time to cognitively deliberate about product value. The results here suggest that ensemble perception operates in a consumer's first glance and it can impact their initial impression of product displays.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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