Magazine article USA TODAY

Competition Changes Views of Strangers

Magazine article USA TODAY

Competition Changes Views of Strangers

Article excerpt

An anonymous stranger you encounter on websites like Yelp or Amazon may seem to be just like you--thus, a potential friend--but a stranger on a site like eBay is a whole different story, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

On websites where people compete against each other, assumptions about strangers change. Previous research has shown that people have a bias toward thinking that strangers they encounter online are probably just like them but, when they are competitors, strangers are seen as different, and not sharing your traits and values--and that changes how people act, maintains Rebecca Naylor, a marketing researcher and coauthor of the study.

"When you're competing against people you don't know, you actually bid much more aggressively than you might normally because you assume that these strangers aren't similar to you," she notes. 'You feel you have the license to bid aggressively because the other bidders aren't like you and you don't have to be nice to them. …

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