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Precision Decisions

August 30, 2012

People trust products more when precise language is used to market them.



Precision decisions…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People tend to trust a product more when the manufacturer uses precise language in its description. This according to University of Michigan consumer psychologists Charles Zhang and Norbert Schwarz. They had volunteers imagine they were going on a 90-minute hike. Then, they had them choose between a GPS unit that promised 2 hours of battery life vs. one that claimed to last for 120 minutes. That’s the same amount of time, but Zhang says the volunteers preferred the 120-minute option because it sounds more precise and trustworthy than 2 hours.

CHARLES ZHANG (University of Michigan):

People would feel unsafe purchasing that 2-hour GPS device because it’s very likely that it falls under an hour and a half. However, it’s very hard to imagine that if you claim it’s 120 minutes battery life, it would actually end up with shorter than 90 minutes, it sounds implausible.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Consumers may be more likely to fork over hard-earned cash if finer-grained, more precise numbers are used in the item's description. (Jupiter Images)