People’s lives are pervaded with quantitative information, like for example nutritional values (60 grams of sugar content) or ecological impact (6 litres per 100 kilometres fuel consumption). A research project at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) has just been awarded a € 250,000 Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to investigate how the metrics in which information is described improves understanding of quantitative information, for example grams versus cups of sugar. Researcher Dr Christophe Lembregts, assistant professor of marketing at RSM, is leading the project.

The widespread provision of quantitative information is generally encouraged because it should allow for better-informed decisions. In contrast with this assumption, a growing research stream has found that individuals have great difficulty to make consistent decisions while relying on quantitative information. As such, the well-intentioned provision of quantitative information may be ineffective in improving individuals’ decisions.

Changing the metric

By using a combination of online, lab and field studies, Dr Lembregts’ project will investigate how changing the metric in which quantitative information is specified may enhance the understanding of quantitative information, and how it could improve decision quality and delineate conditions under which it is effective.

“For theory, this research project will be among the first to turn attention to how individuals’ understanding of quantitative information and decision-making can be improved,” Lembregts says. “For practice, it will provide policy makers with an easy-to-implement, yet relevant intervention that is applicable to all domains involving quantitative decision making.”

Veni grants

“I’m thrilled that NWO recognised the importance of these challenges and decided to fund my future investigations into them,” said Lembregts. “It’s a great honour to receive this award.”

Veni grants are awarded to promising researchers up to three years after completing their doctoral thesis, and can fund up to three years of work to develop ideas and gather data. The maximum grant is €250,000 per researcher. The 2016 Veni grant is the third in three years’ time to be been awarded to a faculty member of RSM’s Department of Marketing Management. The other two were for Dr Monika Lisjak’s compensatory consumption research, and for Dr Gabriele Paolacci’s investigation on the quality of online research.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

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