Skip to content Skip to navigation

Online consumers choose inferior products despite evidence of their poor quality, Stanford research finds

Consumers relying on a product’s online reviews may be swayed by the number of reviews rather than the number of stars. (Image credit: martin-dm / Getty Images)

Sep 6 2017

Posted In:

In the News

A Stanford study found that when choosing between two products online, people tend to favor products with more reviews despite the fact that the more-reviewed product is of lower quality.

When evaluating online purchases, a product’s rating and number of reviews seem helpful to an unsure consumer.

But how often do we scrutinize those figures to learn their true meaning? Not nearly enough, according to a recent study by Derek Powell, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University. The study, which appeared Aug. 21 in Psychological Science, finds that most people fail to do a simple statistical task when viewing online ratings and reviews, leading them to purchase inferior products.