Journal Article | Psychology & Marketing | October 2009

Shaping Online Consumer Choice by Partitioning the Web

by Jolie M. Martin and Michael I. Norton


This research explores how partitioning attributes in online search interfaces changes the valuations of those attributes-and impacts subsequent choice-such that attributes that are displayed as separate categories tend to receive greater decision weight than attributes grouped under umbrella categories. Across several choice domains-cars, dates, and hotels-we show that different attribute partitions impact the importance assigned to attributes (Studies 1 and 2), as well as consumer choices (Studies 3 and 4). We argue that these effects are due in part to users' willingness to use the implicit recommendations of interface designers to determine the importance of attributes, a willingness that extends to following explicit recommendations of online agents based on those attributes (Study 5).

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Information Management; Demand and Consumers; Research; Web; Valuation;


Martin, Jolie M., and Michael I. Norton. "Shaping Online Consumer Choice by Partitioning the Web." Psychology & Marketing 26, no. 10 (October 2009): 908–926.