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Virtual Self-Deception

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2007
Sally B. Patterson

A study comparing interactive — virtual reality — marketing strategies with informational presentations accompanied by static images showed that the virtual techniques boosted the subjects’ ability to remember specific details about the product.

The downside was that it also engendered false impressions: Those who virtually manipulated a device more often recalled it as having capabilities that it did not have but that they had encountered in similar products. Lead researcher Ann E. Schlosser of the University of Washington Business School in Seattle chalks this up to virtual reality’s better ability to spark the imagination, which often substitutes desired attributes for real ones or that fills in missing information from preconceived ideals.

In a paper published in the December issue of Journal of Consumer Research, she concluded that the virtual demonstrations, while perhaps attracting more customers initially, could lead to consumer dissatisfaction if buyers perceive that they aren’t getting all that they expected. Indeed, experts are likeliest to be self-deceived because they have more prior information about what a product might offer.

This could be a textbook example of too much knowledge being a dangerous thing.


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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