Susan Weinschenk, author of Neuro Web Design (a great read, btw), has a great little post about research into online herd shopping behavior done by Yi-Fen Chen.
Four studies were done, each with a pair of similar holiday traveling books to choose from. Each study displayed the popularity of each book differently; one with star ratings, one with sales volume, and two with variations of consumer recommendations vs. expert recommendations. Here’s what happened:
And in the fourth study, Chen tested a recommender system, (“Customers who bought this book also bought”) vs. the recommendation of the website owner, (“Our Internet bookstore staff strongly recommends that you buy…”) People followed the recommendation of the website owner 75% of the time, but they followed the recommender system 88.4% of the time.