How Prejudiced Are We When We Shop Online? Survey Says, More Than You Think

slidePhoto: Courtesy of Sydney Hass.
Ever relied on gut instinct rather than a seller’s credentials when shopping online? After all, letting a must-have purchase slip through your hands is a cardinal e-shopping sin. But, what if your skepticism to buy was based purely on the seller’s skin color or lifestyle choice? A new study appears to suggest that our click-to-buy decisions are hugely influenced by the race of whomever is at the other end — and whether they have tattoos.
The study, which was published in the Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society, consists of findings from a year-long field experiment involving researchers selling iPods via online classified ads in 300 different cities and towns across the United States. Although the iPods for sale were identical, they were “hand modeled” by a black man, a white man, and a white man with a wrist tattoo, reports Mashable.
The results from the experiment were pretty striking. Black sellers received 13% less buyer responses and 18% less offers to the ads. Any offers made were, on average, 12% lower than those received by white sellers. The results for the tattooed white sellers were similar to those of the black sellers.
The findings reveal some nasty behaviors when it comes to buyer perceptions, but we’re going to take these findings with a pinch of salt. High-value gadgets often attract skepticism on the buyers’ part, but as this study only took out 1,200 classified online ads during this experiment, it is a tad niche in its method to make any slippery generalisations. As for tattoos tarnishing trust, talk to us when Zombie Boy, Rick Genest, is out of work. (Mashable)

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