Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours: The Impact of the Interaction Between User Effort and Recommendation Agent Effort on Perceived Recommendation Agent Quality
40 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 17, 2018
Product recommendation agents (RAs) assist online firms to adapt their suggested offers to users’ preferences, there by lowering consumers’ decision effort and improving their decision accuracy. The abundance of product choices available on the internet has made the need for RAs essential mainly due to the increased decision effort by consumers associated with making a selection. The concept of effort has been central in decision-making, yet evidence on the role of effort has been contradictory on whether it should be regarded merely as a cost for the user or as a benefit as well since higher effort improves the odds of a better decision. Building on Social Exchange theory, we suggest that interactions between users and RAs are driven by the concepts of perceived interdependence and reciprocity. We suggest that perceived user effort decreases, whereas RA effort increases, perceived RA quality. We further posit that users evaluate RAs based on their own individual effort expended in relation to their perceptions of the effort that the RA has put into the process of generating recommendations. The evidence from two experimental studies and an integrative data analysis suggests that the negative effect of user effort on RA quality is reduced when users perceive greater RA effort. Such an effect is negatively moderated by user familiarity. Our findings enrich the understanding of the conflicting role of user effort in decision-making and offer important insights into how online firms can improve the utilization of their RAs.
Keywords: recommendation agents, perceived effort, perceived quality, social exchange theory
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