Abstract

As more online stores provide recommendations and reviews simultaneously from multiple advice sources – such as recommendation agents, other consumers, and experts – consumers face the challenge of deciding how to use such wide ranging, and possibly conflicting, sets of information to improve their selection of products. Although previous studies have investigated the classical decision making strategies used in preferential choice problems, most of these are not directly applicable to multiple advice source environments. In addition, since most of these literatures mainly focused on a variance model rather than a process model, they could not fully explain how decision makers reach their product selection decisions. To shed light on the processes online consumers use in making their product selections when using multiple advice sources, this study: (i) explores if, how, and when consumers use consistency as a part of their decision making strategies through developing process models; (ii) identifies the consistency strategies utilized when using multiple advice sources; and (iii) proposes a new consistency-based decision making model. Through concurrent verbal protocol analysis, we identified four consistency strategies and found that the use of consistency strategies increases decision quality more than traditional non-consistency strategies. Our findings are triangulated through the theoretical lens of cognitive dissonance theory, information search process model, and confirmation bias for rigorous validation. We also describe the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

DOI

10.17705/1jais.00846

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