An Investigation Into How Sources of Information Influence Consumers' Perceptions and Decision Making

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Virginia Tech


Consumers rely on sources of information to learn about products and make informed purchasing decisions. In fact, one of the first factors consumer consider when evaluating product information, is the source of that information. Yet despite the importance of the source, research on this topic is sporadic, leaving my unanswered questions. This dissertation advances our understanding of how three different sources of information influence consumers' perceptions and decision making. In the first study, we examine two sources (consumer originated and third party) to determine which one dominates in a persuasion episode. We find consumers overwhelmingly prefer consumer originated versus third party sources because they believe fellow consumers convey information that is diagnostic of future product experiences. In our second study, we show how a subtle firm-dominated characteristic, firm size, influences manufacturing assumptions and purchase behavior. We find consumers prefer small to large firms for unique products, because they assume small firms have a high degree of human intervention in the manufacturing process.



sources of product information, user reviews, expert reviews, persuasion, firm size