New research finds that's because while Web sites offering object interactivity may improve vivid mental images compared to those with simple static pictures and text, those virtual experiences can lead to the creation of fabricated recollections that pose as memories – commonly referred to by psychologists as false positives.
The study by Ann Schlosser, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Washington Business School, showed that virtual experiences may help improve true memories but actually lead most people to think a product – in this case a digital camera – could do more than it was capable of.
"Although learning through interactive experiences with a product is vivid and can enhance knowledge, it can create an illusory sense of competence," Schlosser said.
Schlosser tested how well people could use a camera after studying its capabilities by exploring its features through an interactive simulation or as described in text and photos. She found that virtual experiences can be a double-edged sword: While they are generally better for helping people retain information, they often cause people to imagine features and functions that don't exist.
As part of her study, Schlosser had 173 undergraduate students learn how to use a digital camera through a virtual, object-interactive site or through a site featuring simple text and static pictures. At the object-interactive site, participants could interact with the product by rolling the cursor over it and clicking on its image to produce changes and gather additional information about it. The picture site contained the same information but in a storyboard format that did not allow any user interaction. The students then were given a survey and asked whether certain digital camera attributes were present or absent on the camera they viewed.
Schlosser found that a higher proportion of false positives were made by those who visited the object-interactive than the picture site, meaning that most people believed the camera had features that did not exist and could perform functions that it really couldn't do.
"False positives seem to occur because people determine whether a feature is present by retrieving and searching a mental image for it," she said. "Because the retrieved image is more vivid for those who visited the object-interactive site, they experienced greater confusion regarding which elements of this image are real or imagined, which led to more false positives."
When evaluating an advertisement designed to educate consumers about a new product, marketers often try to determine whether consumers remember information presented in the ad – a true memory – but neglect to assess whether they incorrectly remember information that was not presented – a false memory. Based on this study, Schlosser determined that communications tools that elicit vivid mental images can improve certain true memories while increasing false memories.
Companies that offer interactive demonstrations to consumers could ultimately suffer from this kind of marketing, she said, because consumers who discover that the product does not have attributes generated through false memories are likely to feel misled by the company and be less inclined to buy it.
Nancy Gardner | EurekAlert!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
18.01.2018 | Life Sciences
18.01.2018 | Life Sciences
18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences