The Effects of Ex Ante Informational Social Influence on Web Interface Design Ratings

Soper, Daniel
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Virtually all studies that have hitherto considered factors that influence web interface design ratings have characterized the judge as an independent actor who performs her evaluations in an environment that is free from the effects of direct social influence. In many real-world scenarios, however, the process of assessing a web interface design occurs in a social context, and is hence potentially susceptible to a wide array of direct social influence phenomena. This study focuses on one of these phenomena – informational social influence – and demonstrates by means of a controlled, randomized experiment that judges’ opinions about a web interface can be easily manipulated. Specifically, it is shown that direct ex ante knowledge of the group opinion significantly influences judges’ web interface design ratings, with the degree of influence being, in certain circumstances, positively related to the perceived degree of similarity between the judge and the members of the group. Results are presented and discussed from the perspective of managers who are seeking to obtain unbiased assessments of their organizations’ website designs.
Human-Computer Interaction in the Digital Economy, informational social influence, web interface design
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