Can Two Wrongs Make a Right? Accidental Accuracy in Predictions of Others’ Preferences Under Uncertainty

Katherine Burson, University of Michigan
David Faro, London Business School, UK
Yuval Rottenstreich, New York University
Marketers often must accurately predict consumers’ preferences under uncertainty. We focus on two key steps in such predictions. First, predictors must anticipate others’ beliefs about the likelihood of uncertain events. Second, predictors must anticipate the weight that beliefs will have on others’ choices. We find that predictors typically err at both steps. Intriguingly, the errors they make are of opposing directions and can result in “accidental” accuracy. Consequently, fixing either one of the errors can result in inaccurate predictions. An application of our analysis reveals a specific pattern by which principals diverge from optimal hiring strategies for agents.
[ to cite ]:
Katherine Burson, David Faro, and Yuval Rottenstreich (2008) ,"Can Two Wrongs Make a Right? Accidental Accuracy in Predictions of Others’ Preferences Under Uncertainty", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 242-245.