Volume 37 | Number 2 | April 2002

Abstract List

Judith H. Hibbard, Paul Slovic, Ellen Peters, Melissa L. Finucane


To assess whether presentation approaches designed to be more meaningful result in greater weighting of quality information in decisions. An emerging body of research indicates that the way information is presented affects how it is interpreted and how it is weighted in decisions. Comparative health plan performance reports are not being used by consumers possibly because the information presented is difficult to use. The next generation of these reports should be designed to support decision making.

Design and Study Participants

The study uses a controlled experimental design. Participants (=162) were randomly assigned to different conditions and asked to complete tasks related to using quality information and making health plan selections. Dependent variables included the amount of weight given to quality information in choices and decision accuracy.


Some presentation approaches make it easier for users to process and integrate quality data into their choices. However, other presentation formats influence consumers' decisions in ways that undermine their self‐interest.


Findings indicate that presenting quality data in a more evaluable format increases the weight it carries in consumer decisions. Every change made in the presentation of comparative data has the potential to influence decisions. Those who disseminate information have a responsibility to be aware of how they use that influence and to direct it in productive and defensible ways. The alternative is to manipulate people in ways that are unknown, are not thought out, or are not defensible, but are no less manipulative.