Thumbs Up or Down: Consumer Reactions to Decisions by Algorithms Versus Humans

Gizem Yalcin*, Sarah Lim, Stefano Puntoni, Stijn M.J. van Osselaer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
462 Downloads (Pure)


Although companies increasingly are adopting algorithms for consumer-facing tasks (e.g., application evaluations), little research has compared consumers’ reactions to favorable decisions (e.g., acceptances) versus unfavorable decisions (e.g., rejections) about themselves that are made by an algorithm versus a human. Ten studies reveal that, in contrast to managers’ predictions, consumers react less positively when a favorable decision is made by an algorithmic (vs. a human) decision maker, whereas this difference is mitigated for an unfavorable decision. The effect is driven by distinct attribution processes: it is easier for consumers to internalize a favorable decision outcome that is rendered by a human than by an algorithm, but it is easy to externalize an unfavorable decision outcome regardless of the decision maker type. The authors conclude by advising managers on how to limit the likelihood of less positive reactions toward algorithmic (vs. human) acceptances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-717
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number4
Early online date10 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This is funded by the Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


Dive into the research topics of 'Thumbs Up or Down: Consumer Reactions to Decisions by Algorithms Versus Humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this