Hi-Tech but out of Luck

Posted on August 20, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |



You have just been accepted to a very prestigious graduate school, first of all, congratulations! Now you need some tools; your basic notebooks, pens, and of course a computer. Choosing a computer is a big decision. This is a top ten grad school, you want to make sure you look professional and have the best of the best technology right at your fingertips. Therefore, you want a sophisticated computer, which shouldn’t be a problem because you know your way around the internet, and you’re a fairly good typist. A week before school starts you find the perfect PC: it’s sleek, it’s hi-tech, and it’s all yours. Now it’s the first day of school and you’re setting up your fabulous new computer, but alas, you can’t figure out how to turn it on!

This is what happens when your skill perception does not match up with your purchase choice. In her recent study, Katherine Burson concluded, “that manipulations of perceived comparative skill change product choices.” (p. 106) Burson conducted two separate studies that measured the matching skills of a person’s ability to use a certain product, such as a golf club or a digital camera, and which type of product they actually purchased. Burson stated, “people rely heavily on their relative self-assessments in product choice, but these estimates are often inaccurate and thus lead to unintended and inconsistent choices.” (p. 104)

The following graph shows the discrepancies of skill matching, when subjects measured their camera using skills with the actual purchase of a high-end versus basic digital camera:



Burson concluded that a person’s perception of skill can be manipulated by tests, social perception, or other external factors.


Text Credit: Burson, Katherine, Consumer-Product Skill Matching, Jorunal of Consumer Research, 34, June 2007.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wesleychu/33323853/


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