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Allison Yamanashi, Kristin Donnelly, David Whitney; Shaping perception of individual objects through summary statistical perception. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1174. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1174.
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Humans frequently encounter brief marketing displays while scrolling across computer screens, riding on the subway, watching television, or even walking past store windows. These first-glance visual assessments of consumer products are critical moments in early-stage shopping, and prior research from our lab indicates that observers are sensitive to the average value of consumer product groups. In principle, this information could be used to guide behavior, but this remains an unanswered question. Does ensemble information about the value of product groups influence subsequent judgements about individual objects within the groups? To investigate this question, participants viewed individual products with the retailer's price listed underneath. The participants were asked to choose whether the price was a "good price" or a "bad price". In one condition, this 2AFC task was preceded by a 1-second group display (containing the single product among a crowd of other products) and an ensemble price evaluation task that required observers to report the average price of the crowd. In another condition, participants merely viewed the single product before performing the 2AFC price evaluation. Importantly, the evaluated consumer products were identical in both conditions. Replicating our prior results, we show that participants were highly sensitive to the ensemble price of the group. More importantly, the ensemble assessment of the group strongly influenced participants' evaluations of single product value. Participants judged the single items to be a "good price" at a significantly higher rate when the product was preceded by the ensemble task compared to the single-product viewing task. This finding was robust across a range of single product prices and average group prices. These findings indicate that rapid summary statistical impressions can have a crucial impact consumer evaluations of individual product value. More generally, the results reveal one way in which ensemble perception influences subsequent visual processes.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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