Abstract - Satisfaction in online social microlending decisions
Imagine you make a choice in a domain in which the quality of options is difficult to evaluate. How would you determine your satisfaction with the choice? In online social microlending, for instance, people can give money to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries without taking interest. In this domain, it is impossible to directly experience the chosen option, thereby making it difficult to evaluate whether one is satisfied or not. However, lender’s satisfaction with their choices is important for multiple reasons: First, because it might determine how much money they would actually lend to the entrepreneur in poverty that they selected. Second, because it might influence whether they come back to the microlending website to lend money to other entrepreneurs. Third, because it might influence whether they motivate their friends to also participate in social microlending.
In this research project we focus on the role of the user interface of online platforms on which users can find microlending projects. We argue that in domains such as online social microlending, decision makers (DMs) can neither determine their satisfaction by experiencing the chosen option nor is it easy to find hard criteria for evaluating options. However, DMs evaluation might depend on the way the decision situation is structured, which in turn is influenced by the decision support system (DSS) that the webpage offers. By building on and integrating prior research on deliberative and affective thinking-styles, decision processes and DSSs, we propose a model of how satisfaction is determined. We test our model in a laboratory experiment.
Jella Pfeiffer studied computer science and business administration at the University of Mannheim (Germany) and Waterloo (Canada). After having received her diploma from Mannheim at the end of 2006, she went to the University of Mainz as a teaching and research assistant and finished her PhD there in January 2011 on “Interactive Decision Aids in E-Commerce". During her PhD, she also worked as a freelancer for the consulting company Icosystem in Cambridge (USA). She has been a visiting fellow in Harvard (USA) in 2009 and a visiting scientist at the business schools of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and British Columbia (Canada) in 2011. She has won several prizes for her academic achievements, among them the McKinsey Business Technology Award. She works as an assistant professor at the University of Mainz. In her current research projects she focuses on decision support systems on the Internet and in brick-and-mortar stores, social influence in recommendation agents, adoption of online social network platforms and search-engine-marketing.