Why You Should Avoid Buying the Amazon Product With the Most Reviews


Shopping online requires a lot more strategy than swinging by a department store. When the item you’re looking for has options from dozens of brands, all selling for similar prices, making an informed purchase often comes down to sifting through product ratings. If you’ve used this plan of attack before, a team of researchers has some advice for you: When it comes to reviews, trust quality over quantity. Following that rule will help you choose the better product, but according to their new study published in the journal Psychological Science, consumers tend to do just the opposite.

As Quartz reports, researchers looked at 15.6 million reviews of over 350,000 products on Amazon for the study. Plugging the data into a statistical model proved that a product with a high number of subpar reviews—say, a pair of headphones with an average rating of 2.6 and 200 reviews—is likely to be lower in quality than a different pair of headphones with the same rating and only 10 reviews. This isn’t a huge surprise—it makes sense that an item with more poor reviews has a greater chance of actually being shoddy than an item with less of them. But seeing those large numbers seems to give people a much different impression.

For one part of the study, subjects were shown two Amazon products that had both been given an average rating of 3.1 stars but had different review quantities. The first product, which had 154 reviews, had just a 40 percent chance of being superior to the second product with 29 reviews. Swayed by the power of popularity, 90 percent of participants chose the item with the most reviews. When the researchers conducted similar experiments, the would-be shoppers chose the most reviewed (and likely worse quality) products 72.3 percent of the time. “Overall, participants’ judgments suggested that they failed to make meaningful statistical inferences,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

Online customers may not always be able to spot the best purchases based on instinct, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn to change their ways. If you’re a habitual Amazon shopper, start your searches by branching outside the featured sellers lists and looking for deals that don't necessarily benefit from the retailer's algorithms. Once you’ve found a few products you like at prices that work for you, then you can start parsing reviews—just remember to keep your popularity bias in check.

[h/t Quartz]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar


Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

These Are America's 20 Happiest States

Natalya Zaritskaya, Unsplash
Natalya Zaritskaya, Unsplash
Personal happiness is subjective, but there are many factors that contribute to someone's well-being. Income, sleep habits, and work-life balance are a few examples. By gauging how these factors affect people across the country, WalletHub was able to put together a map ranking the happiest states in the U.S. in 2020. To compile the list below, the personal finance website determined how all 50 states performed in three categories: emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community and environment. These three labels cover more than 30 specific criteria, including divorce rates, unemployment rates, adequate sleep levels, and average work hours. Hawaii tops the list, earning a total score of 69.58 out of a possible 100. It ranks second in emotional and physical well-being and third in community and environment. Just behind The Aloha State is Utah, which beats out all other states when it comes to work environment. Minnesota, New Jersey, and Maryland round out the top five. You can read the full list of America's 20 happiest states below. Judging happiness levels by state is just one way to view the country's mental health. For an even more localized snapshot of happiness across the U.S., check out the country's happiest cities.
  1. Hawaii
  2. Utah
  3. Minnesota
  4. New Jersey
  5. Maryland
  6. California
  7. North Dakota
  8. Iowa
  9. Idaho
  10. Connecticut
  11. Nebraska
  12. South Dakota
  13. Massachusetts
  14. Virginia
  15. Washington
  16. Vermont
  17. New York
  18. Wisconsin
  19. Nevada
  20. Arizona