As the Crow Flies: Bias in Consumers' Map-Based Distance Judgments

15 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2015

See all articles by Priya Raghubir

Priya Raghubir

University of California, Berkeley - Marketing Group

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: January 19, 2015

Abstract

Consumers make distance judgments when they decide which store to visit or which route to take. However, these judgments may be prone to various spatial perception biases. While there is a rich literature on spatial perceptions in urban planning and environmental and cognitive psychology, there is little in the field of consumer behavior. In this article we introduce the topic of spatial perceptions as an area of research in marketing. We extend the literature on spatial perceptions by proposing that consumers use the direct distance between the endpoints of a path, or the distance "as the crow flies," as a source of information while making distance judgments -- the shorter the direct distance, the shorter the distance estimate. We study two spatial features that affect direct distance-path angularity (i.e., the size of the angle between path segments) and path direction (i.e., whether the path retraces back or not). We further propose and demonstrate that the direct-distance bias is due to the perceptual salience of direct distance and is used by consumers in an automatic manner. Theoretical implications for the manner in which consumers process spatial information and the use of cognitive heuristics while making spatial judgments are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Raghubir, Priya and Krishna, Aradhna, As the Crow Flies: Bias in Consumers' Map-Based Distance Judgments (January 19, 2015). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2552272

Priya Raghubir

University of California, Berkeley - Marketing Group ( email )

Haas School of Business
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-643-1899 (Phone)
510-643-1420 (Fax)

Aradhna Krishna (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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