This paper examines the preferences of advice seekers for human information sources. We focus on the case in which advice providers can be people with high or low technical expertise (high in technical knowledge) and/or socially connected (connected to many others). Somewhat contrary to intuition, information sources who are high on social connectivity are shown to be relatively more attractive for more innovative products. Consistent with this, a meta-analysis indicates that the correlation between knowledge and opinion leadership is indeed lower for more innovative products. Studies 2 and 3 show that innovators consistently prefer to consult with people who are high on technical expertise, while those who are less innovative prefer to consult with socially connected individuals for more radical new products. Study 4 shows that while even less innovative consumers prefer to consult with experts about technical performance attributes for radical innovations, they still prefer to talk to a socially connected person for information about attributes that require skill to use. Finally, Study 5 assesses the relative importance of different traits of possible information sources.
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Goldenberg, Jacob, Donald Lehmann, Daniela Shidlovski, and Michal Barak. "Preference for New Product Information Sources." Working Paper, Columbia Business School, 2007.
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