Everyone needs to make personal decisions about how much weight to give a particular piece of information, particularly if that information conflicts with something you think you already know to be true. I often put it this way “You love your boyfriend and hate the Yankees. Your boyfriend loves the Yankees. Do you re-evaluate your boyfriend, or re-evaluate the Yankees. Or both? Or neither?” Put another way, if the New York Times prints something that goes counter to your beliefs, do you believe them because they’re an authority? What if it were Wikipedia? What if it were an Indymedia site? What if it were your neighbor, or me? In any case, articles on this topic fascinate me. The Harvard Business School has published one recently called The Hidden Cost of Buying Information where Francesca Gino’s research strongly suggests that people overweigh the value of information that they have paid for.
Gino’s results are based upon an experiment where subjects were asked to answer different sets of questions about American history and were provided the opportunity to receive free advice as well as costly advice—the same advice, as it turned out. Gino’s conclusion: When the advice is costly, subjects are more inclined to take it into consideration and use it. And that conclusion can have profound consequences for consumers, managers, and organizations in their decision making, she says. [lisnews]