1. Study suggests link between gambling participation and low academic performance

    January 21, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Springer press release:

    The odds are stacked against teenagers who regularly gamble. A new study in Springer’s Journal of Gambling Studies shows that a 14-year-old who gambles is more likely to struggle at school. The study was led by Frank Vitaro of the University of Montreal, Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center and the Research Unit on Children’s Psychosocial Maladjustment in Canada.

    In this long-term population-based study, 766 Canadian children were assessed when they were 14 and 17 years old through self-reports and responses from their parents. They were questioned about their gambling habits and academic performance with a focus on how many different types of gambling activities they participated in, rather than how often they gambled. This is because a diversity in someone’s gambling habits has been found to better predict whether someone will develop gambling problems.

    Information about the social status and structure of the families the children grew up in was also gathered from their parents. This took account of the level of education that the children’s parents had attained, and the jobs they held.

    A significant, albeit modest, correlation was found between a teenager who gambled at the age of 14 and 17 and his or her subsequent academic performance. Young people who already gambled regularly by the time they were 14 years old most often also saw a drop in their academic performance in the years following.

    Vitaro says that teenagers’ gambling activities after school hours often take up much of the time they might otherwise have spent on school-related work. Many gamblers are also known to skip classes.

    He explains that through gambling, adolescents are also often exposed to antisocial peer groups, which in turn might diminish school engagement and school performance, either directly or through the increase of behavioral and social problems.

    “Our results also confirm the pervasive role of socio-familial risk, which has been related to both elevated levels of gambling involvement and low academic performance among adolescents in previous studies,” says Vitaro, who adds that personal factors such as impulsivity also play a role.

    “From a clinical perspective, these findings suggest that children living in an unfavorable environment and manifesting high levels of impulsivity should be targeted for early prevention purposes,” adds Vitaro. “Failing early prevention, reducing gambling involvement may also curb to some extent the decline in academic performance.”


  2. Study suggests people with high social status are perceived as insincere when they apologize for a transgression

    January 18, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of Haifa press release:

    Do we believe apologies by people who have committed a transgression? It depends on their power status. A new international study including the University of Haifa found that people with high social status are perceived as insincere when they apologize for a transgression, relative to people of lower status. “The high-status person is perceived as someone who can control their emotions more effectively and use them strategically, and accordingly they are perceived as less sincere. This perception applies to the world of business and work, and it’s reasonable to assume it applies to politicians, too. The more senior they are, the less authentic their emotions are perceived as being,” says Dr. Arik Cheshin of the University of Haifa, one of the authors of the study.

    The study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, was undertaken by Dr. Arik Cheshin from the Department of Human Services at the University of Haifa, together with an international team of researchers from the United States and the Netherlands, headed by Prof. Peter Kim of the University of Southern California. In a series of experiments, each involving hundreds of participants, the researchers sought to examine whether the power status of a person who has committed a transgression influences trust in that person and the ability to forgive them.

    In the first part of the experiment, the researchers told the participants about an employee who had been found forging documents, leading to the imposition of a fine on the company. They showed the participants pictures of the employee expressing various emotions in a later staff meeting — happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. The next experiment used video clips showing the same emotions but a different transgression that lead to legal problems. Some of the participants were told that the person involved was a junior employee, while others were told that it was the company’s CEO. In the following experiments, the researchers examined the same situation, but this time relating to a real incident. They showed the participants a real video clip in which the CEO of Toyota cried and apologized for failing to take action, even though he knew there was a problem with the breaks in various vehicles. Again, some of the participants thought that the person was a junior employee, while others were told that he was the CEO.

    The findings showed that in all three cases the CEO’s emotions were perceived as less sincere than those of the junior employee. When the researchers explored the reason for this difference, it emerged that the participants perceived the CEO as someone who can control their emotions and even use them strategically. “The assumption is that the CEO has much more to lose, and accordingly has a stronger motivation to try to use their emotions to create empathy. Accordingly, the participants described them as less sincere.”

    Next, the researchers examined a similar situation, but this time they not only asked who was perceived as more authentic, but also whether there was a difference in terms of the participants’ willingness to forgive a junior or a senior employee in exactly the same situation. They presented the participants with a true case of a CEO who insulted the company’s customers and then posted a video apology on YouTube. Again, some of the participants were told that he was a senior employee and others thought that he was a junior worker.

    Once again, it was found that the CEO was perceived as less sincere and less deserving of forgiveness. The researchers also found that in the case of the junior employee, the participants gave much more detailed explanations as to why the worker should be forgiven.

    “Positions of power come with a disadvantage. The expression of emotions after a transgression are perceived as less authentic and less sincere when they are made by a high-status person. Accordingly, people are less inclined to forgive high-status people than those with lower status. We examined this issue in the context of the business world, but we can certainly apply the conclusions to other spheres, such as politics. The more senior the politician, the more we are inclined to assume that they are better at controlling their emotions and are using emotions strategically. Because we believe that they are trying to achieve something, we perceive them as less sincere in the same situation,” Dr. Cheshin concluded.


  3. Study suggests use of mobile devices at home can carry conflict to workplace

    January 16, 2018 by Ashley

    From the University of Texas at Arlington press release:

    A University of Texas at Arlington researcher is part of a team of authors who have found that using a mobile device at home for work purposes has negative implications for the employee’s work life and also their spouse.

    Wayne Crawford, assistant professor of management in UTA’s College of Business, was one of five authors on “Your Job Is Messing With Mine! The Impact of Mobile Device Use for Work During Family Time on the Spouse’s Work Life,” recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

    Dawn Carson, Baylor University; Meredith Thompson, Utah State University; and Wendy Boswell and Dwayne Whitten, Texas A&M University; also contributed to the study.

    In all, 344 married couples were surveyed. All participants worked fulltime and used mobile devices or tablets at home for work purposes.

    “There is plenty of research on technology and how it affects employees,” Crawford said. “We wanted to see if this technology use carried over to affect the spouse negatively at work.”

    The couples’ survey results showed that use of a mobile device during family time resulted in lower job satisfaction and lower job performance.

    “It’s really no surprise that conflict was created when a spouse is using a mobile device at home,” Crawford said. “They’re sometimes engaging in work activities during family time. What that ultimately leads to, though, is trouble at work for both spouses. So, whether companies care or don’t care about employees being plugged in, those firms need to know that the relationship tension created by their interaction with their employees during non-work hours ultimately leads to work-life trouble.”

    Abdul Rasheed, chair of the Department of Management, said Crawford’s work is illuminating for businesses.

    “That extra time spent on mobile devices after hours might not be worth it if the grief it causes results in productivity losses once the conflict is carried back to work,” Rasheed said. “Businesses have to think about accomplishing tasks more efficiently while people are at work.”


  4. Study suggests scent of romantic partner can help lower stress levels

    by Ashley

    From the University of British Columbia press release:

    The scent of a romantic partner can help lower stress levels, new psychology research from the University of British Columbia has found.

    The study, published yesterday in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found women feel calmer after being exposed to their male partner’s scent. Conversely, being exposed to a stranger’s scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

    “Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realize why they engage in these behaviours,” said Marlise Hofer, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology. “Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress.”

    For the study, the researchers recruited 96 opposite-sex couples. Men were given a clean T-shirt to wear for 24 hours, and were told to refrain from using deodorant and scented body products, smoking and eating certain foods that could affect their scent. The T-shirts were then frozen to preserve the scent.

    The women were randomly assigned to smell a T-shirt that was either unworn, or had been worn by their partner or a stranger. They were not told which one they had been given. The women underwent a stress test that involved a mock job interview and a mental math task, and also answered questions about their stress levels and provided saliva samples used to measure their cortisol levels.

    The researchers asked women to act as the “smellers” because they tend to have a better sense of smell than men.

    They found that women who had smelled their partner’s shirt felt less stressed both before and after the stress test. Those who both smelled their partner’s shirt and also correctly identified the scent also had lower levels of cortisol, suggesting that the stress-reducing benefits of a partner’s scent are strongest when women know what they’re smelling.

    Meanwhile, women who had smelled a stranger’s scent had higher cortisol levels throughout the stress test.

    The authors speculate that evolutionary factors could influence why the stranger’s scent affected cortisol levels.

    “From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol,” said Hofer. “This could happen without us being fully aware of it.”

    Frances Chen, the study’s senior author and assistant professor in the UBC department of psychology, said the findings could have practical implications to help people cope with stressful situations when they’re away from loved ones.

    “With globalization, people are increasingly traveling for work and moving to new cities,” said Chen. “Our research suggests that something as simple as taking an article of clothing that was worn by your loved one could help lower stress levels when you’re far from home.”


  5. Study suggests human-like virtual assistants can deter help-seeking

    January 15, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Association for Psychological Science press release:

    Virtual assistants have become increasingly sophisticated — and more humanlike — since the days when Clippy asked if you needed help with your document. These assistants are intended to make programs and apps easier to use, but research published in Psychological Science suggests that humanlike virtual assistants may actually deter some people from seeking help on tasks that are supposed to measure achievementPsychological Science is a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

    “We demonstrate that anthropomorphic features may not prove beneficial in online learning settings, especially among individuals who believe their abilities are fixed and who thus worry about presenting themselves as incompetent to others,” says psychological scientist and study author Daeun Park of Chungbuk National University. “Our results reveal that participants who saw intelligence as fixed were less likely to seek help, even at the cost of lower performance.”

    Previous research has shown that people are inclined to see computerized systems as social beings with only a couple social cues. This social dynamic can make the systems seem less intimidating and more user-friendly, but Park and coauthors Sara Kim and Ke Zhang wondered whether that would be true in a context where performance matters, such as with online learning platforms.

    “Online learning is an increasingly popular tool across most levels of education and most computer-based learning environments offer various forms of help, such as a tutoring system that provides context-specific help,” says Park. “Often, these help systems adopt humanlike features; however, the effects of these kinds of help systems have never been tested.”

    In one online study, the researchers had 187 participants complete a task that supposedly measured intelligence. In the task, participants saw a group of three words (e.g., room, blood, salts) and were supposed to come up with a fourth word that related to all three (e.g., bath). On the more difficult problems, they automatically received a hint from an onscreen computer icon — some participants saw a computer “helper” with humanlike features including a face and speech bubble, whereas others saw a helper that looked like a regular computer.

    Participants reported greater embarrassment and concerns about self-image when seeking help from the anthropomorphized computer versus the regular computer, but only if they believed that intelligence is a fixed, not malleable trait.

    The findings indicated that a couple of anthropomorphic cues are sufficient to elicit concern about seeking help, at least for some individuals. Park and colleagues decided to test this directly in a second experiment with 171 university students.

    In the experiment, the researchers manipulated how the participants thought about intelligence by having them read made-up science articles that highlighted either the stability or the malleability of intelligence. The participants completed the same kind of word problems as in the first study — this time, they freely chose whether to receive a hint from the computer “helper.”

    The results showed that students who were led to think about intelligence as fixed were less likely to use the hints when the helper had humanlike features than when it didn’t. More importantly, they also answered more questions incorrectly. Those who were led to think about intelligence as a malleable trait showed no differences.

    These findings could have implications for our performance using online learning platforms, the researchers conclude:

    “Educators and program designers should pay special attention to unintended meanings that arise from humanlike features embedded online learning features,” says Park. “Furthermore, when purchasing educational software, we recommend parents review not only the contents but also the way the content is delivered.”

     


  6. Study suggests children’s perception of gender appropriate colors is affected by gender labels

    January 14, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Springer press release:

    Two researchers from the University of Hong Kong suggest that toymakers and parents avoid gender-labelling toys, remove colour divides, and manufacture toys for both boys and girls in a wide range of colours. Sui Ping Yeung and Wang Ivy Wong’s study is published in Springer’s journal Sex Roles, and shows how easily preschoolers’ ideas about what is appropriate for their gender is manipulated. Their study is also the first to show that a boy’s preference for blue and a girl’s liking of pink is not just a Western construct, but is also a phenomenon in urban Asian societies.

    The researchers recruited 129 preschool Chinese children aged between five and seven from two kindergartens in Hong Kong. First the researchers assessed the children’s preference for pink versus blue by showing them cards and toys in these colours. Then the children were presented with yellow and green cards and toys. They were randomly divided into so-called label and no-label groups.

    Children in the no-label group were presented with coloured cards and toys which had no reference to a specific gender and these children consequently expressed no preference for a specific colour. However, preschoolers in the label group were told that yellow was a girl’s colour and green a boys’ colour, and corresponding gender differences emerged in the choices they made.

    Apart from randomly assigning children to these two groups, the children’s pre-existing preferences for yellow and green were statistically controlled, so the resulting difference between the groups speaks strongly to a causal effect of the gender labels.

    According to the researchers, the gender differences between preferred colours in children is noteworthy because it is so much more prominent than most other psychological differences between the sexes.

    “Our findings support the notion that gender-typed liking for pink versus blue is a particularly salient gender difference,” explains Yeung. “Moreover, our findings reveal that gender differences could be created merely by applying gender labels.”

    “By applying gender labels, not only concrete materials such as toys could become gender-typed, but also abstract qualities such as colours, with children increasing or decreasing their likings for particular colours based on the gender labels available in their social environment,” Wong says.

    The findings support previous research that highlighted the strong influence that gender labels such as “for boys” or “for girls” might have. Further, the observations are in line with gender schema theory that says that once children have learnt a specific gender identity, their behaviour will be guided by the standards set as being appropriate for their specific sex. These will guide them later in life on how they interact and adapt to their surroundings, for instance, when taking on chores around the house, such as cooking, cleaning or repairing things.

    Wong also commented on the cultural angle of this study: “Many gender differences and stereotypes in developed Asian regions resemble those in the West, which is not surprising given the high degree of Westernization and the prevalence of gender colour-coding typical of Western cultures in Hong Kong.”

    The study also goes beyond investigating why boys and girls prefer different colours. The researchers also tested whether using gender-coded colours in toys affects how well children play. The children were given yellow and green puzzles to play with. Whether the puzzles were in the gender appropriate or gender inappropriate colour did not make a difference in the children’s puzzle performance.

    However, the researchers caution against using this finding to support the use of gender-coded colours to increase sales. The results showed that boys and girls performed equally well but if they had been exposed to gender labels, regardless of whether they received the gender appropriate or gender inappropriate coloured puzzles, a gender difference emerged, with boys outperforming girls.


  7. Study suggests entitled people don’t follow instructions because they see them as ‘unfair’

    January 13, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Society for Personality and Social Psychology press release:

    From job applications to being in line at the DMV, instructions, and the expectations that we follow them, are everywhere. Recent research found people with a greater sense of entitlement are less likely to follow instructions than less entitled people are, because they view the instructions as an unfair imposition on them. The results appear in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

    Scientists already know entitled people — technically, individuals with a higher sense of entitlement — are more likely to believe they deserve preferences and resources that others don’t and that they are less concerned about what is socially acceptable or beneficial. For authors Emily Zitek (Cornell University) and Alexander Jordan (Harvard Medical School), understanding the reasons for their behavior could lead to solutions as well.

    “The fact that there are a lot of complaints these days about having to deal with entitled students and entitled employees,” says Zitek, “suggests the need for a solution.”

    Zitek and Jordan conducted a series of studies, first to see who was more likely to avoid following instructions in a word search. After establishing that people who scored high on measures of entitled personality were less likely to follow instructions, they provided a set of scenarios to try to understand why the entitled individuals ignore the instructions: selfishness, control, or punishment. But none of these affected the outcomes; entitled people still wouldn’t follow instructions.

    The researchers were surprised that it was so hard to get entitled individuals to follow instructions.

    “We thought that everyone would follow instructions when we told people that they would definitely get punished for not doing so, but entitled individuals still were less likely to follow instructions than less entitled individuals,” said Zitek.

    A final set of experiments, exploring fairness, finally got to the reason: “Entitled people do not follow instructions because they would rather take a loss themselves than agree to something unfair,” wrote the authors.

    “A challenge for managers, professors, and anyone else who needs to get people with a sense of entitlement to follow instructions is to think about how to frame the instructions to make them seem fairer or more legitimate,” said Zitek.

    Zitek and Jordan write that organizations and societies run more smoothly when people are willing to follow instructions.


  8. Study suggests punishment might not always be as effective as we think

    January 12, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Hokkaido University press release:

    Punishment might not be an effective means to get members of society to cooperate for the common good, according to a social dilemma experiment.

    A game to study human behavior has shown punishment is an ineffective means for promoting cooperation among players. The result has implications for understanding how cooperation has evolved to have a formative role in human societies.

    Human societies maintain their stability by forming cooperative partnerships. But, cooperation often comes at a cost. For example, a person taking time to raise the alarm in order to alert other members of a group to impending danger could be losing valuable time to save oneself. It is unclear why natural selection favors cooperativeness among individuals who are inherently selfish.

    In theoretical studies, punishment is often seen as a means to coerce people into being more cooperative. To examine such theory, a team of international researchers led by Marko Jusup of Hokkaido University in Japan and Zhen Wang of Northwestern Polytechnical University in China has conducted a “social dilemma experiment.” The team investigated if providing punishment as an option helps improve the overall level of cooperation in an unchanging network of individuals.

    They used a version of the commonly employed “prisoner’s dilemma” game. Two hundred and twenty-five students in China were organized into three trial groups and played 50 rounds each of the game.

    In group one, every student played with two opponents which changed every round. The students could choose between “cooperate” or “defect,” and points were given based on the combined choices made. If a student and the two opponents chose “defect,” the student gained zero points. If they all chose “cooperate,” the student gained four points. If only a student chose to defect while the other two chose to cooperate, the gain for the student was eight points.

    The second group was similar to the first one in every aspect except that the people playing the game with each other remained the same for the duration of the 50 rounds, enabling them to learn each other’s characteristics.

    In the third group, players also remained the same. However, a new option, “punish,” was introduced. Choosing punishment led to a small reduction in points for the punisher and a larger reduction of points for the punishees.

    At the end of the game, overall points were counted and the students were given monetary compensation based on the number of points won.

    The expectation is that, as individuals play more with the same opponents over several rounds, they see the benefit of cooperating in order to gain more points. Introducing punishment as an option is basically saying: if you don’t cooperate with me, I’ll punish you. In theory, it is expected that applying this option would lead to more cooperation.

    The researchers found that players in the constantly changing groups cooperated much less (4%) than those in the static groups (38%), where they were able to establish which players were willing to cooperate and thus gain a larger average financial payoff for all involved.

    Surprisingly, however, adding punishment as an option did not improve the level of cooperation (37%). The final financial payoffs in this trial group were also, on average, significantly less than those gained by players in the static group. Interestingly, less defection was seen in the punishment group when compared to the static group; some players replaced defection with punishment.

    While the implied message when punishing someone is ‘I want you to be cooperative,’ the immediate effect is more consistent with the message ‘I want to hurt you,'” write the researchers in their study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Punishment seems to have an overall demoralizing effect, as individuals who get punished on multiple occasions may see a good chunk of their total payoff vanish in a short period of time, explain the researchers. This could lead players to lose interest in the game and play the remaining rounds with less of a rational strategy. The availability of punishment as an option also seems to reduce the incentive to choose cooperation over competition.

    Why, then, is punishment so pervasive in human societies? “It could be that human brains are hardwired to derive pleasure from punishing competitors,” says Jusup. “However, it is more likely that, in real life, a dominant side has the ability to punish without provoking retaliation,” adds Wang.

    Although the study provides valuable insights into how cooperation arises in human society, the team advises it would be unwise to extrapolate the implications of their study far beyond the experimental setting.


  9. Study suggests food cues undermine healthy eating choices

    January 11, 2018 by Ashley

    From the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA) press release:

    Obesity has become a major health issue due to the current ‘obesogenic’ environment in which unhealthy food is both easy and cheap to purchase. As a result, many (government) organisations encourage healthy eating habits among the general public by providing information on healthy diets. Nevertheless, when people encounter stimuli that they have learned to associate with certain snacks, they tend to choose those products, even when they know these are unhealthy. This is the finding of research carried out by psychologists Aukje Verhoeven, Poppy Watson and Sanne de Wit from the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

    The researchers investigated the effects of health warnings on food choices in the presence or absence of food-associated stimuli. This includes every kind of stimuli associated with food, including adverts that trigger thoughts of a tasty snack or the sight or smell of food which leads to craving.

    ‘Health warnings often make people want to choose healthier food products, yet many still end up picking unhealthy food products’, says Verhoeven. ‘We suspected this might partly be due to the fact that people learn to associate specific cues in their environment with certain food choices. For example, eating a cheese burger regularly occurs in the visual presence of a large logo M. This causes a strong association between the stimulus (the logo) and the rewarding experience of eating a cheese burger. Simply seeing an M eventually causes us to crave a burger and triggers a learned behaviour to head to a fast-food restaurant. Unhealthy choices are therefore automatically activated by learned associations, making health warnings, which focus on conscious choices, ineffective.’

    To test their hypothesis, the researchers used a specific computer task, the Pavlovian-instrumental transfer, in a controlled setting to simulate the learning processes between certain (food) choices and environmental stimuli in subjects. ‘Health warnings for healthy food choices only seem to be effective in an environment where no food cues are present. Whenever stimuli are present which people have come to associate with certain snacks, they choose the accompanying (unhealthy) food product, even when they know it is unhealthy or aren’t really craving that food product. It didn’t matter whether we alerted the subjects before or after they learned the associations with food cues’, says Verhoeven.

    How do you ensure people don’t just have the intention to buy healthier food products but actually go ahead and do so? The researchers suggest decreasing the level of food-associated stimuli people, and children in particular, are exposed to. One way to do this, for example, would be to decrease the amount of advertising for unhealthy foods. Also, the results suggest that these processes could in turn stimulate the choice for healthy products. Verhoeven: ‘It is worthwhile exposing people to healthy food products together with certain environmental cues more often, for example by showing more adverts for healthy products. The environment could also be shaped such that healthy choices are the easiest to make, for instance by placing healthy products at the front in canteens or by replacing chocolate bars with apples and healthy snacks at the cash register. In this way, you give people a gentle push in the right direction.’


  10. Study suggests consumers less likely to go through with purchases when on mobile devices

    by Ashley

    From the University of East Anglia press release:

    Shoppers hoping to bag a bargain in the post-Christmas sales are much less likely to go through with their purchases if they are using phones and tablets to buy goods online.

    This is because consumers often worry they are not seeing the full picture on a mobile app or that they could be missing out on special offers or overlooking hidden costs, according to new research. Concerns about privacy and security can also motivate people to put items into their shopping baskets but then quit without paying.

    Although mobile apps are rapidly becoming among the most popular ways to shop online, the phenomenon of shopping cart abandonment is much higher than for desktop-based online shopping. According to Market Research firm Criteo , the share of e-commerce traffic from mobile devices increased to 46% of global e-commerce traffic in Q2 2016 however, only 27% of purchases initiated on this channel were finalized and conversion rates significantly lagged behind desktop initiated purchases.

    Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) investigating why this is so say it represents a huge challenge for online retailers, who are investing heavily in mobile shopping, but not reaping the rewards in successful sales.

    “Our study results revealed a paradox,” said Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, of Norwich Business School at UEA. “Mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier, and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough leads to an ‘emotional ambivalence’  about the transaction – and that mean customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase.”

    The researchers studied online shopping data from 2016-2017 from consumers in Taiwan and the US. They found that the reasons for hesitation at the checkout stage were broadly the same in both countries. In addition, shoppers are much more likely use mobile apps as a way of researching and organising goods, rather than as a purchasing tool, and this also contributes to checkout hesitation.

    “People think differently when they use their mobile phones to make purchases,” said Dr Korfiatis. “The smaller screen size and uncertainty about missing important details about the purchase make you much more ambivalent about completing the transaction than when you are looking at a big screen.”

    Flora Huang, the study’s lead author, added: “This is a phenomenon that has not been well researched, yet it represents a huge opportunity for retailers. Companies spend a lot of money on tactics such as pay-per-click advertising to bring consumers into online stores – but if those consumers come in via mobile apps and then are not finalising their purchases, a lot of that money will be wasted.”

    The team’s results, published in the Journal of Business Research, showed that consumers are much less likely to abandon their shopping baskets if they are satisfied with the choice process. App designers can help by minimising clutter to include only necessary elements on the device’s limited screen space and organising sites via effective product categorisation or filter options so consumers can find products more easily.

    Other strategies that might prompt a shopper to complete a purchase include adding special offers, or coupons for a nearby store at the checkout stage.

    “Retailers need to invest in technology, but they need to do it in the right way, so the investment pays off,” added Dr Korfiatis. “Customers are becoming more and more demanding and, with mobile shopping in particular, they don’t forgive failures so offering a streamlined, integrated service is really important.”

    The article ‘Mobile shopping cart abandonment: the roles of conflicts, ambivalence and hesitation’, by GH Huang, N Korfiatis, CT Chang, appears in the Journal of Business Research, published by Elsevier.