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Human Inference and Information Vividness - Literature Review

3 pages
684 words
Boston College
Type of paper: 
Literature review
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According to Nesbit and Ross (1980), the impact of information on the human mind is only poorly related to its value as evidence. That precisely means that the more vivid, personal and concrete the information is, the greater the impact it will have on a persons thinking compared to the pallid information, which may actually have a greater value than the former. For instance, the information perceived through the direct hearing with ones ears or seen with own eyes tends to have a larger impact compared to secondhand information that may even have superior evidential worth.

Human inference knowledge regarding information vividness can be a great asset for managers for enhancing their work efficiency and productivity of the organization at large. One of the main applications of human inference theory in attracting new customer has been in the design of advertisements. According to a study by Adaval and Wyer (1998) on the effects of concrete or vivid verbal information on customers judgment and information processing, people are more attracted to narratives compared to abstract or non-narrative-based information. Their report further shows that, unlike abstract information, a story-ordered or a narrative is less effortful in terms of processing and when a person is presented with information in such a manner, they are likely to make more positive evaluations.

To support this inference hypothesis, they carried out an experiment where the participants would be subjected to two travel brochures, one describing a tour to India while the other to Thailand. Each of the destinations was described using list-format and narrative form respectively. According to the results, the format of information presentation heavily influenced the consumers judgment where the narrative-presented brochures were evaluated more favorably compared to the list formatted. Using this inference theory, organizations and managers in the UAE have a great opportunity to leverage the concept in the design of their advertisement prints such as brochures to attract even more customers.

Though human inference theory views statistical information as a summary of instances, which captures little emotional interest, messages featuring statistical evidence are more informative compared to vivid information and can be used to support any stance (Allen & Preiss, 1997). The knowledge of pallid information attributes has objectively been used by managers and marketers to persuade their audience with a greater success that could not be achieved using the anecdotal information. For example, Ganzach and Karsahi (1995) found out that by negatively framing messages involving the financial costs and benefits lost of nonuse, there was an augmented credit card usage amidst the expired cardholders compared to when the message was positively framed. However, in some consumer areas positive framing has been found to be more effective than the negative inclined messages. For instance, according to Levin and Gaeth (1988), presenting a meat product as 75% lean beef was found to be me more effective in enhancing positive attitudes towards the product compared to 25% fat beef. These observations just show how statistical information when presented in the right manner can influence consumer purchase decisions and even post-purchase behavior.

The above literature analysis shows that, although vivid or narrative information is usually emotionally interesting and more compelling to the respondent compared to the pallid information, the latter is more informative and can be important in persuading a customer into buying a product or subscribing to a service. Knowledge of human inference theory regarding how different types of information impact peoples reasoning is a very important skill set for managers and marketers who want to attract more customers into their organizations.



Adaval, R., & Wyer, R. S. (1998). The role of narratives in consumer information processing. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 7(3), 207-245.

Allen, M., & Preiss, R. W. (1997). Comparing the persuasiveness of narrative and statistical evidence using metaanalysis. Communication Research Reports, 14(2), 125-131.

Ganzach, Y., & Karsahi, N. (1995). Message framing and buying behavior: A field experiment. Journal of Business Research, 32(1), 11-17.

Levin, I. P., & Gaeth, G. J. (1988). How consumers are affected by the framing of attribute information before and after consuming the product. Journal of consumer research, 15(3), 374-378.Nisbett, R. E., & Ross, L. (1980). Human inference: Strategies and shortcomings of social judgment.


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