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 Consumers Under-Predict Learning Curve Following Initial Experience

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Date posted: 16/07/2010

According to a new manuscript in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers often quit using products that would be beneficial for them in the long run because they experience a short period of pessimism during their initial encounter with skill-based products as varied as knitting needles and mobile devices.

George Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, Darron Billeter, assistant professor of marketing business management at Brigham Young University, and Ajay Kalra, professor of marketing at Rice University, find that consumers are overconfident in their ability to learn to use skill-based products before trying them out.

As soon as they gain experience with the product, however, they flip to the opposite extreme and become under-confident in their ability to use the new product with the consequence that they often quit using it.

Anyone who has tried, then rapidly abandoned snowboarding, knitting, fancy new software or the calendar on their iPod can probably ruefully relate. The finding is significant because previous research has shown that, generally, consumers grow fonder of products the more they use them.

The authors studied tasks new to most people, but that wouldn't take long to learn in a lab setting -- for example, typing on a keyboard with an unfamiliar layout, tracing lines while only being able to view the tracing in a mirror, and folding t-shirts in a novel way. Subjects were first given verbal instructions but no direct experience, and then they predicted how rapidly they would be able to perform the task.

Before the subjects gained direct experience with the new skill, they over-predicted their own performance. For example with t-shirt folding, subjects thought they could fold the shirts much faster than they actually did.

See the full Story via external site: www.sciencedaily.com

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