The information search behaviour of individuals in experimental markets
Individual consumers as well as managers within any organisation regularly make purchasing decisions. Some of these decisions will relate to product or service markets that are characterised by homogeneity in all aspects except price. There may be a benefit, therefore, from searching for a lower price. The bulk of this thesis is concerned with investigating individual search behaviour when making purchases in such circumstances. After a comprehensive review of formal search models, together with the corresponding experimental evidence, a series of new experiments are described that, in particular, uncover several heuristics that might govern search behaviour in practice. A large number of simulated purchases is used to assess the performance of these heuristics in comparison with the optimal, theoretical model. A related judgemental bias - functional fixation - is also reviewed in detail and tested experimentally. Finally, the understanding of individual search behaviour is further developed using a research experiment set in a more complex, and less highly structured, business decision context.