This article examines the role of electronic recommendation agents in connection with consumers' construction of multiattribute preferences. We propose that such digital agents have the potential to influence consumers' preferences in a systematic fashion. Our key hypothesis is that, everything else being equal, the inclusion of an attribute in a recommendation agent renders this attribute more prominent in consumers' purchase decisions. The results of a controlled agent-assisted shopping experiment provide strong support for this hypothesis. We also demonstrate that this preference-construction effect may persist beyond the initial shopping experience and into subsequent choice settings in which no recommendation agent is available. Finally, we propose three possible explanations of the effect and discuss each of these in light of our results.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Consumer Psychology
|Published - 1 Jan 2003