Understanding the role of latent feature diversification on choice difficulty and satisfaction

M.C. Willemsen, M.P. Graus, B.P. Knijnenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
326 Downloads (Pure)


People like variety and often prefer to choose from large item sets. However, large sets can cause a phenomenon called “choice overload”: they are more difficult to choose from, and as a result decision makers are less satisfied with their choices. It has been argued that choice overload occurs because large sets contain more similar items. To overcome this effect, the present paper proposes that increasing the diversity of item sets might make them more attractive and satisfactory, without making them much more difficult to choose from. To this purpose, by using structural equation model methodology, we study diversification based on the latent features of a matrix factorization recommender model. Study 1 diversifies a set of recommended items while controlling for the overall quality of the set, and tests it in two online user experiments with a movie recommender system. Study 1a tests the effectiveness of the latent feature diversification, and shows that diversification increases the perceived diversity and attractiveness of the item set, while at the same time reducing the perceived difficulty of choosing from the set. Study 1b subsequently shows that diversification can increase users’ satisfaction with the chosen option, especially when they are choosing from small, diverse item sets. Study 2 extends these results by testing our diversification algorithm against traditional Top-N recommendations, and finds that diverse, small item sets are just as satisfying and less effortful to choose from than Top-N recommendations. Our results suggest that, at least for the movie domain, diverse small sets may be the best thing one could offer a user of a recommender system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-389
Number of pages43
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Choice overload
  • Decision-making
  • Diversification
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Matrix factorization
  • Recommender systems
  • User experience
  • User-centric evaluation


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