Marketing Letters

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 285–300 | Cite as

Agents to the Rescue?

  • Patricia M. West
  • Dan Ariely
  • Steve Bellman
  • Eric Bradlow
  • Joel Huber
  • Eric Johnson
  • Barbara Kahn
  • John Little
  • David Schkade


The advent of electronic environments is bound to have profound effects on consumer decision making. While the exact nature of these influences is only partially known it is clear that consumers could benefit from properly designed electronic agents that know individual users' preferences and can act on their behalf. An examination of the various roles agents perform is presented as a framework for thinking about the design of electronic agents. In addition, a set of goals is established that include both outcome-based measures, such as improving decision quality, as well as process measures like increasing satisfaction and developing trust.

agents e-commerce consumer choice 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackoff, Russell L. (1967), “Management Misinformation Systems, ” Management Science, 14(4), B147-B156.Google Scholar
  2. Alba, Joseph, John Lynch, Barton Weitz, Chris Janiszewski, Richard Lutz, Alan Sawyer, and Stacy Wood (1997), “Interactive Home Shopping: Consumer, Retailer, and Manufacturer Incentives to Participate in Electronic Marketplaces, ” Journal of Marketing, 61 (July), 38–53.Google Scholar
  3. Ariely, Dan (1998), “Controlling the Information Flow: On the Role of Interactivity in Consumers' Decision Making and Preferences, ” working paper at the Sloan School of Management, MIT.Google Scholar
  4. Avery, Christopher and Richard Zeckhauser (1997), “Recommender Systems for Evaluating Computer Messages, ” Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, 40(3), 88–90.Google Scholar
  5. Bakos, J. Yannis (1997), “Reducing Buyer Search Costs: Implications for Electronic Marketplaces, ” Management Science, 43(12), 1676–1692.Google Scholar
  6. Balzer, William K., Michael E. Doherty, and Raymond O'Connor, Jr. (1989), “Effects of Cognitive Feedback on Performance, ” Psychological Bulletin, 106 (November), 410–433.Google Scholar
  7. Bettman, James R., Mary Frances Luce, and John W. Payne (1998), “Constructive Consumer Choice Processes, ” Journal of Consumer Research, 25 (December), 187–217.Google Scholar
  8. Bettman, James R., Eric J. Johnson, and John W. Payne (1990), “A Componential Analysis of Cognitive Effort in Choice, ” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 45, 111–139.Google Scholar
  9. Chase,William G. and Herbert A. Simon (1973), “Perception in Chess, ” Cognitive Psychology, 4 (January), 55–81.Google Scholar
  10. Fischhoff, Baruch (1991), “Value Elicitation: Is There Anything in There?” American Psychologist, 46 (August), 835–847.Google Scholar
  11. Fitzsimmons, Gavan J. (1996), “Out-of-Stocks and Consumer Satisfaction, ” Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  12. Fitzsimmons, Gavan J., Eric A. Greenleaf, and Donald R. Lehmann (1997), “Consumer Satisfaction with Both Product and Decision: Implications for the Supply Chain, ” UCLA working paper, 110 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095.Google Scholar
  13. Gershoff, Andrew and Patricia M. West (1998), “Using a Community of Knowledge to Build Intelligent Agents, ” Marketing Letters, 9 (January), 79–91.Google Scholar
  14. Gilmore, James H. and B. Joseph Pine II (1997), “The Four Faces of Mass Customization, ” Harvard Business Review (January-February), 91–101.Google Scholar
  15. Green, Paul E. A., M. Krieger, and M. K. Agarwal (1991), “Adaptive Conjoint Analysis: Some Caveats and Suggestions, ” Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 28, 215–222.Google Scholar
  16. Greenleaf, Eric A. and Donald R. Lehmann (1995), “Reasons for Substantial Delay in Consumer Decision Making, ” Journal of Consumer Research, 22(2), 186–199Google Scholar
  17. Hagel, John III and Jeffrey F. Rayport (1997), “The Coming Battle for Customer Information, ” Harvard Business Review, (January-February), 53–65.Google Scholar
  18. Huffman, Cynthia and Barbara. E. Kahn (1998), “Variety for Sale: Mass Customization or Mass Confusion?” Journal of Retailing, Winter, Vol. 74, # 2.Google Scholar
  19. Kahn, Barbara E. (1995), “Consumer Variety-Seeking Among Goods and Services: An Integrative Review, ” Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2:3, 139–48.Google Scholar
  20. Kahn, B. E. and Cynthia Huffman (1998), “Mass Customization, ” The Handbook of Technology Management, Ed: R. C. Dorf, CRC Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  21. Kahneman, Daniel and Snell, Jackie (1990), “Predicting Utility, ” In R.M. Hogarth (ed.) Insights in Decision Making: A Tribute to Hillel J. Einhorn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Keeney, Ralph L. (1992), Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decisionmaking, Harvard Press, Cambridge MA.Google Scholar
  23. Kleinmuntz, Donald N. and David A. Schkade (1993), “Information Displays in Decision Making. ” Psychological Science, 4, 221–227.Google Scholar
  24. Little, Roderick J. A and Donald B. Rubin (1987), Statistical Analysis with Missing Data, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Loewenstein, George and David A. Schkade (1999), “Wouldn't It Be Nice? Predicting Tastes and Feelings, ” In D. Kahneman, E. Diener & N. Schwartz (Eds.), Well Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  26. Lohse, Jerry and Eric J. Johnson (1999), “The Influence of Rearranging Product Information in a Matrix Display on Consumer Choice, ” The Wharton Forum for Electronic Commerce, working paper at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  27. Lynch, John G. and Dan Ariely (1998), “Interactive Home Shopping: Effects of Search Costs for Price and Quality Information on Consumer Price Sensitivity, Satisfaction With Merchandise, and Retention, ” working paper at the Fuqua School of Business.Google Scholar
  28. Maes, Pattie (1995), “Intelligent Software, ” Scientific American, Vol. 273 (September), 84–86.Google Scholar
  29. Malhotra, Naresk K. (1982), “Information Load and Consumer Decision Making, ” Journal of Consumer Research, 8 (March), 419–430.Google Scholar
  30. Mandel, Naomi and Eric Johnson (1998), “Constructing Preferences Online: Can Web Pages Change What You Want?” Working Paper, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  31. McAlister, Leigh and Edgar A. Pessemier (1982), “Variety-Seeking Behavior: An Interdisciplinary review, ” Journal of Consumer Research, 9 (December), 311–22.Google Scholar
  32. Menon, Satya and Barbara E. Kahn (1998), “Cross-Category Effects of Stimulation on the Shopping Experience: An Application to Internet Shopping, ” The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Marketing, Working Paper.Google Scholar
  33. Payne, John, James R. Bettman, and Eric J. Johnson (1993), The Adaptive Decision Maker, Cambridge University Press; New York, NY.Google Scholar
  34. Payne, John, James R. Bettman, and David A. Schkade (forthcoming), “Measuring Constructed Preferences: Toward a Building Code, ” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.Google Scholar
  35. Pazgal, Amit and Nir Vulcan (1998), “Have Your Agent Call Mine: Software Agents, the Internet and Marketing, ” in Donna Hoffman and John Little (Eds.), Collected Working Papers, Marketing Science and the Internet, INFORMS Mini-Conference, MIT Sloan School.Google Scholar
  36. Reeves, Byron and Clifford Nass (1998), The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  37. Russo, J. E. (1977), “The Value of Unit Price Information, ” Journal of Marketing Research, 14, 193–201.Google Scholar
  38. Solomon, Michael R. (1986), “The Missing Link: Surrogate Consumers in the Marketing Chain, ” Journal of Marketing, 50, 208–218.Google Scholar
  39. Urban, Glen (1998) “Trust Based Marketing on the Web, ” in Donna Hoffman and John Little (Eds.), Collected. Working Paper, Marketing Science and the Internet, INFORMS Mini-Conference, MIT Sloan School.Google Scholar
  40. Urban, Glen L., Fareena Sultan, and William Qualls (1998), “Trust Based Marketing on the Internet, ” M.I.T. Sloan School Working Paper WP 4035–98.Google Scholar
  41. West, Patricia M., Christina L. Brown, and Stephen J. Hoch (1996), “Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation, ” Journal of Consumer Research, 22 (September), 120–135.Google Scholar
  42. Wainer, H. and R. J. Mislevy (1990), “Computerized Adaptive Testing: A Primer, ” Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  43. Widing, Robert and W. Wayne Talarzyk (1993), “Electronic Information Systems for Consumers: An Evaluation of Computer-Assisted Formats in Multiple Decision Environments, ” Journal of Marketing Research, 30 (May), 125–141.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia M. West
    • 1
  • Dan Ariely
    • 2
  • Steve Bellman
    • 3
  • Eric Bradlow
    • 4
  • Joel Huber
    • 5
  • Eric Johnson
    • 6
  • Barbara Kahn
    • 6
  • John Little
    • 7
  • David Schkade
    • 8
  1. 1.Ohio State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUSA
  3. 3.University of New South WalesEngland
  4. 4.University of PennsylvaniaUSA
  5. 5.Duke UniversityUSA
  6. 6.University of PennsylvaniaUSA
  7. 7.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUSA
  8. 8.University of TexasAustin

Personalised recommendations