Lines and Evaluations (04-27-22)

Ouyang and colleagues learned how significantly the way product options are presented influences impressions formed; their findings are likely applicable more generally than the specific context investigated.  The researchers report that “Many retailers use seemingly innocuous dividing lines to separate product alternatives on their websites or product catalogs. . . . a dividing line can influence consumers' perceived quantity of the product alternatives displayed. . . . consumers perceive a smaller number of products displayed on a page when these products are separated by a dividing line compared to when they are not. This effect occurs because the dividing line separates the products into top versus bottom (or left vs. right) segments, such that participants' visual attention is largely drawn to the top (or the left) where their eyes first fixate. Consequently, participants tend to estimate the total number of items based on the subset they pay attention to. In addition, the effect . . . can hold regardless of line orientation. Finally, it can have several marketing outcomes, such as higher willingness to buy and lower post-choice satisfaction.”

Jun Ouyang, Yanli Jia, and Zhaoyang Guo.  “The Effects of a Dividing Line in a Product Assortment on Perceived Quantity, Willingness to Buy, and Choice Satisfaction.”  Psychology and Marketing, in press, https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21669